"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in the people's purchasing power. The PKH is disbursed monthly, so that beneficiary families can utilize the funds to procure nutritious foods, such as eggs, fish, vegetables, and fruits," Social Affairs Minister Juliari P. Batubara noted in a statement here on Wednesday.
According to the ministry's Directorate for Family Social Insurance (JSK), 60,908 pregnant women and 2.9 million early-age children are registered to receive the aid funding, with each eligible for Rp3 million annually. The aid funding has increased from Rp2.4 million each given last year.
"This is testament to the state’s presence to improve the health of mothers and infants and to boost their nutritional intake, so that Indonesian children will grow healthy," Juliari explained.
Stunting is impairment in growth and development among children not getting proper nutrition, experiencing repeated infection, and receiving inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.
Some of the consequences entail poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.
Juliari affirmed that healthy children will grow to become qualified Indonesian human resources that are ready to compete with their counterparts from other nations to face global challenges.
President Joko Widodo has involved various institutions and ministries to lower cases of stunting in Indonesia and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2025 to reduce stunting by 40 percent.
Director General of Protection and Social Insurance of the ministry Pepen Nazaruddin noted that as of July 2020, the ministry had disbursed Rp24.08 trillion of the PKH fund to beneficiaries nationwide, with the largest chunk going to West Java, East Java, and Central Java.
The number of beneficiaries has reached 12,851 mothers in East Java, while 11,925 and 10,565 mothers respectively in Central and West Java.
"A total of 534,877 early-age children received the funding in West Java, 413,597 children in Central Java, and 391,720 children in East Java," Nazaruddin remarked.
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