Yogyakarta (ANTARA) - The National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) laid stress on the need to suppress early marriage in children in order to reduce the stunting prevalence rate by at least three percent in 2022.

"President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) urged that the stunting prevalence rate be reduced by three percent in 2022, from 24.4 percent to 21 percent. Hence, we must maintain and ban child marriages," Head of BKKBN Hasto Wardoyo stated in Yogyakarta on Monday.

Wardoyo later noted that early marriage was one of the factors causal to the high prevalence of stunting in Indonesia. The stunting prevalence rate in Indonesia had reportedly reached 24.4 percent in 2021.

Early marriages in children contributed to the increasing maternal and infant mortality rate in the country. Children abandoned by their mothers would be more likelier to experience stunting due to the lack of proper care and love, Wardoyo noted.

Early marriage in children could endanger the children in terms of the emotional and physical factors.

From an emotional point of view, children were unable to marry, as they were at an age when a lot of time had to be set aside for study and play.

Meanwhile, from the perspective of women's physical health, those under the age of 19 had yet to experience full growth, especially the uterus. If women get married around this age, the likelihood of developing cervical cancer will increase.

Wardoyo stated that poor parenting also had an impact on the increasing divorce rate in Indonesia. Families in conflict may give rise to discontentment in children, thereby resulting in loss of appetite and compromised absorption of food nutrients.

In a bid to accelerate stunting reduction, the BKKBN continues to echo the slogan of Four Too (4T) in the community that encompassed not bearing children at too young an age, avoiding advanced maternal age, not giving birth too often, and not having short birth intervals.

The BKKBN also established the Planning Generation (GenRe) forum that serves as a platform for teenagers in disseminating information on stunting prevention, the importance of family planning, and expanding reproductive health education.

The forum also helps teenagers affected by mental disorders, which reached 9.8 percent in Indonesia.

Through the forum, Wardoyo is optimistic that by the end of 2022, the stunting rate would drop to 21 percent. He also expects a prompt resolution to problems related to early marriage and other adolescent issues in order to achieve a superior and healthy generation in Indonesia.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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