YOGYAKARTA- Indonesia currently still faces health problems that are quite serious. Improvement programs to provide better service in order to achieve a healthy society, especially on the poor community, need to be done immediately. Planning to overcome the problem of chronic malnutrition needs to be a top priority to overcome the causes and reduce disparities between provinces based on population characteristics. "Overcoming chronic malnutrition problems needs to be a priority in Indonesia ," said Atmarita, M.P.H., Dr. PH (member of R&D of Health Ministry) in the National Seminar on Optimizing the Potential of Stunted Children in Indonesia, Saturday (2/10), at the Auditorium of Faculty of Medicine UGM.
Atmarita added that people’s behavior about the importance of children’s health still needs to be improved. Large campaigns are very important to do, especially to reduce smoking habit and early marriage, bringing the community to participate actively in obtaining health services. "To that end, strengthening commitment of the various people involved for the improvement of human resources also needs to be followed by improved management and good community empowerment programs," she added.
She admitted that the problem of malnutrition is still very serious and spreads all over Indonesia. Basic Health Research in years 2007 and 2010 showed short prevalence in children under five years still ranging between 36-40 percent. Average height of boys is 162.9 cm at the age of 19, or 13.6 cm shorter than the reference. Meanwhile in girls, the average height at the age of 19 years is 152.8 cm or 10.4 cm shorter than the reference. "There are many factors, it can be the intake of food consumption that is less than the daily adequacy and possibly lasting a long time, health services that are not good, and bad behavior like smoking," Atmarita said.
Meanwhile, in the same place, a faculty member of Health Nutrition Department Faculty of Medicine UGM, Toto Sudargo, SKM, M. Kes., explained one of the nutritional problems that are found in Indonesia is stunted. Stunted is related to low food availability at household level, infection, and parenting patterns. The one that causes food unavailability at the household level is poverty. "If the number of children under five and primary school age children in Indonesia is 25 million, about 6 million children are stunted," Toto said.
While those 6 million cases of stunted are caused by hereditary factors, there are still 4.8 million children suffering from stunted because of problems associated with nutrition and infection, behavior, poverty, education, nutrition knowledge, social awareness, etc.
Stunted children at the age of 8-10 years are more confined/depressed (more quiet, not much of eye-contacts) as compared with non-stunted children if in a stressful situation. Children with insufficient protein and chronic energy (stunted) show poor performance on tests of attention and memory study, but still good in the coordination and speed of motion.
To prevent stunted and its effects on cognitive function, the intervention of macro nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) and micronutrients (iron, folate, vitamin C, iodine, vitamin A) in a comprehensive manner is required to school-age children through school lunch feeding program. "Intervention of macro and micro nutrients in a comprehensive manner to school-age children through school lunch feeding could be one alternative solution," Toto said.