Stunting problem should, therefore, be overcome through efforts involving all parties in the society.
Head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Laksana Tri Handoko, stated that stunting in Indonesia is a problem that concerns community behavior regarding nutritional intake.
Based on data at the National Development Planning Ministry, due to the imbalance in nutritional intake, the number of stunted children has now reached 9 million.
Handoko stated in Jakarta on Wednesday (July 4) that the problem of stunting occurs from adolescence, after marriage, pregnancy, and until the time of parenting.
"Nutritional fulfillment is a must in the first one thousand days of life of the fetus. That is why pregnant women`s nutrition is so important, because brain development occurs when the fetus reaches three months," Handoko remarked.
Cases of childhood stunting in infants not only occurs in remote areas and poor families but also in large cities in the community. "What is happening now is a big problem as it has reached 9 million in numbers. Nine million is not a small number. Stunting is not only a matter of physical issue but also of behavioral problems," he explained.
About 20 percent of total cases of dwarfism in Indonesia come from economically able families in society. "This is because they do not achieve nutritional balance as they avoid eating over fear of becoming obese," he explained.
In addition, proper knowledge on food processing, which causes the nutrient content in food to disappear, is also necessary. He explained various steps that can lead to inadequate nutrition needs, such as overcooking, excessive use of cooking oil, and washing rice too clean, which can remove the rice cuticle that contains vitamin B.
Hence, efforts to overcome stunting problem in the country should involve the people and their understanding on nutrition.
In this regard, Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed hope that the people can take initiative to overcome childhood stunting in various regions in the country. "The people themselves must work to solve this problem for the benefit of the society. If the society does not take action, it is difficult (to overcome the problem), no matter how much money we have," Kalla remarked when reviewing the stunting prevention program in Dakung Village, Central Praya, Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).
The movement to eradicate childhood stunting problem requires the role of all parties, including the central government, local government, non-governmental organizations and, most importantly, the community itself.
The vice president revealed that the effort to eradicate stunting is actually not a new program in Indonesia. The government has always been concerned about nutrition improvement programs for children through Posyandu (integrated health service post), Puskesmas (public health care center), and other health services.
"Therefore, this community movement must be improved, which is certainly supported by the World Bank based on its experience in many areas," Kalla noted.
Kalla and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim made a working visit to West Nusa Tenggara on Thursday to lead a village meeting forum for the prevention of childhood dysfunction.
In the meantime, the World Bank has agreed to grant US$400 million to deal with stunting in Indonesia.
"They (the World Bank) are willing to grant $400 million. However, we ourselves will also allocate Rp46 trillion to deal with stunting, because this is a demographic bonus that the government must seriously handle," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said on Wednesday (July 4).
Stunting has become a crucial issue that must be solved now, as Indonesia is ranked fourth in terms of stunting in the world, he revealed. Stunting has drawn attention from the WB as it has an impact on the economy.
If a country has stunted human resources, it will result in low productivity. "The human resources also have an impact on our gross domestic product (GDP) and productivity. So they are closely related to one another," he remarked.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla revealed that stunting in children must be prevented from now on, in order to avoid unproductive generations in the future.
"If children who were born today are not provided good nutrition, our generations will become stunted in the next 20 or 30 years," he pointed out.
The Vice President noted that the stunting prevention program in the village is a future program for the youth of Indonesia.
"We must be concerned about this, as stunting can affect brain development in the future generation. Hence, these programs are being implemented to improve the children`s abilities and qualities," he stated.
According to Kalla, this case is the outcome of what the nation had done in the past two to three decades.
"This is not a new program, but it must be rejuvenated. There are community health clinics, but they now need to be improved, and all parties need to cooperate in the system. We start by repairing roads, boosting the economy of society, and improving the health of pregnant women and children," he explained.