Stunting prevention must be done before marriage
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The fulfillment of the nutritional needs of prospective couples and families of childbearing age (PUS) is among the main focuses of the Family Assistance Team (TPK), the National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) has said.

“Stunting prevention must be done before marriage. This is due to the high rates of anemia and malnutrition in young women before marriage. When they get pregnant, there is a high risk of stunting in their babies," BKKBN Head Hasto Wardoyo said during a discussion on accelerating stunting reduction in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Increasing nutrition fulfillment is a determining indicator for preventing chronic energy deficiency and anemia—which can widen the potential for stunting at birth—in both prospective brides and PUS, he added.

The agency's data has put the proportion of young women aged 15–19 years at risk of chronic energy deficiency at 36.3 percent. Meanwhile, among women of childbearing age (WUS), that is, 15–49 years, the risk of chronic energy deficiency is 33.5 percent and women with anemia at 37.1 percent.

Therefore, in accordance with the mandate of Presidential Regulation No. 72 of 2021 on the implementation of accelerating stunting reduction, the government is focusing on meeting the nutritional needs of teenagers, prospective brides or potential couples of childbearing age, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children aged 0–59 months.

According to Wardoyo, women's nutrition status can be determined through a health examination three months before marriage, as required by the government, and supported with the provision of marriage counseling and stunting prevention material.

To ensure that brides and grooms are in an ideal condition for marriage and pregnancy, women can get counseling and examinations to check height, weight, upper arm circumference, and hemoglobin (Hb) levels, starting from three months before marriage, he disclosed.

“Hopefully, the risk factors of stunting babies in prospective brides or PUS candidates can be identified and eliminated before marriage and pregnancy," he added.

Given the importance of monitoring fetal nutrition and health to prevent stunting, Wardoyo asked all parties to work together to reduce stunting prevalence in a holistic, integrative, and quality manner through coordination, synergy, and synchronization from the central to the village level.

This would include the involvement and empowerment of religious leaders and educators to spread the good intentions of preventing and overcoming stunting during every lecture.

The BKKBN has also collaborated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to compile audio-visual Information Communication and Education (IEC) materials for religious educators conducting IEC on stunting.

"This synergy must be implemented at the village level and its practice must be carried out properly," he said.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Sri Haryati
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