News feature - Parental role remains critical to preventing stunting By Otniel Tamindael

News feature - Parental role remains critical to preventing stunting  By Otniel Tamindael

Tens of residents take part in a national campaign against stunting in the National Monument (Monas) square in Jakarta on Sept 16, 018 (ANTARA FOTO/Aprillio Akbar/kye)

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Despite the prevalence of stunted growth among children in Indonesia having dropped, from 37.2 percent in 2013 to 30.8 percent in 2018, parents and families must play an ongoing instrumental role in preventing stunting.

Based on research conducted by the Health Ministry in cooperation with the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2018 across the country, Health Minister Nila Moeloek remarked that the prevalence of stunted growth in toddlers had dropped significantly.

A decline in the prevalence of stunting was the outcome of cooperation in work between the Health Ministry and other agencies, such as the Rural Development Ministry and Public Works and Housing Ministry, in providing access to clean water and improving sanitary conditions.

However, Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy noted that a decline in the stunting rates should not be reason enough for parents to rejoice, but they must continue to pay attention to the child`s nutritional intake.

Cases of stunted growth in children not only affect those with economic limitations, but kids of economically stable parents also come under this group.

According to the minister of education and culture, economically sound parents usually entrust the handling of their children on housemaids.

The housemaids, who are generally impatient, are unable to ensure that the children eat well, so they fail to receive proper nutritional intake that will lead to stunted growth.

It turns out that an incorrect or improper diet is one of the causes of malnutrition in infants in Indonesia, according to the education and culture minister.

One cause of malnutrition and stunting is not merely the inadequate consumption of food but also a faulty and improper diet usually offered by parents and nannies.

It is crucial to understand that a good healthcare system providing immunization, oral re-hydration, periodic deworming, early diagnosis, and proper treatment of common illnesses can go a long way in preventing malnutrition in society.

Moreover, parents entrust the care of their children on maids, who are misbehaved and give them sleeping pills, so they are asleep all day, thereby having a negative impact on the child`s brain growth and development.

If parents continue to avail the services of maids, they must be trained first, so that they can shoulder the responsibility of meeting the children`s nutritional intake.

Especially in today`s era, the burdens of life are increasing and technological advances are so rapid that parents have begun ignoring their children.

Stunted growth in children is due to three factors: poor sanitation, improper handling of infections in children, and lack of parental attention on the child`s nutritional intake.

Identified by the World Health Organization as impaired growth and development in children due to poor nutrition, repeated infections, and inadequate psycho-social stimulation, stunted growth is not solely observed in poor families.

Stunting is experienced by children in 47 countries, including Indonesia, with the indicator still referring to a comparison between weight and age.

In terms of stunting, the National Demography and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) plays its role in raising awareness among parents to participate in the fight against stunted growth.

One of BKKBN`s program, called the Family Planning Village, better known as "Kampung KB," aims to assist such parents.

Kampung KB offers technical services, ranging from integrated service posts and prenuptial counseling to economic empowerment of families and parental care in preventing stunting.

Through the Kampung KB program, parents and teenage girls will be introduced to the issue of stunting and encouraged to have the ability to deal with the matter.

Indonesia has launched the Kampung KB as part of its efforts to revitalize the national family planning program aimed at helping improve the health of its citizens.

In the past several years, the country`s family planning program did not witness any significant progress and had to be revitalized through the Kampung KB program.

Kampung KB is a miniscule part of guiding demographic changes in a progressive fashion. Family planning and family development programs must involve all elements in the National Demography and Family Planning Agency.

Through the Kampung KB, the government is keen to enhance public awareness of the importance of family planning, as its benefits extend beyond just a woman`s health to her entire well-being and prosperity.

When couples choose to have smaller families, it also ensures that they will have sufficient means to provide for them and build a more prosperous future, not only for themselves but also for the entire nation.

Accordingly, all villages need to have Kampung KB to support the success of the family planning program. This will result in a better quality of life and will also help underprivileged families.

Kampung KB is designed to serve as a model of integrated development pertaining to the population and will be implemented at the micro level.

The family planning program is expected to further improve the welfare of the community and to help break free from the shackles of poverty.

Family planning will also result in people paying greater attention to aspects, such as the ideal age for marriage, ideal gap between child births, the number of children, and expenses required for meeting the educational and health needs of the entire family, including the prevention of stunted growth.

Editing by Suharto