Jakarta (ANTARA) - Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin emphasized that prevention of stunting growth must start from the pre-birth stage through the provision of blood-booster tablets and animal protein-rich intake.

"Stunting prevention before birth is the key because 23 percent of babies are born in stunting conditions, so, an intervention is necessary by ensuring pregnant mothers do not suffer from anemia," Sadikin stated at the 2023 Regional Heads and Regional Leadership Forum National Coordination Meeting in Bogor, West Java, Tuesday.

A child born with stunting conditions due to lack of nutrients might have an intellectual capacity that is 20 percent lower than average, which could have an adverse effect on the mental capacity of the population and, in the long term, the regional revenue.

"If cases of stunting growth are prevalent, then our people will be 20 percent dumber," he cautioned.

The ministry has partaken in the national stunting reduction programme to achieve the 14-percent stunting rate target by 2024 through the provision of free blood-booster tablets for pregnant mothers, the minister noted.

Sadikin said that the provision of free blood-booster tablets aims to reduce the prevalence of anemia in Indonesia, which according to the Basic Health Research report in 2018, affected 32 percent of teenagers in Indonesia due to sub-optimal nutrient intake and lack of physical activities.

Moreover, the ministry has intervened to reduce anemia through its National Nutrient Action by providing free blood-booster tablets for girls at schools and local community health centers.

A person is suffering from anemia if the hemoglobin level in their blood is lower than 12g/dL, and they must consume blood-booster tablets to help improve their condition, he emphasized.

Moreover, stunting reduction action is implemented by providing additional foods for babies aged 6-18 months. Hence, parents must regularly visit their community health centers to monitor the health of their infants.

He stated that animal protein intake would be necessary if the baby's weight is not increasing.

"Their food must not be a biscuit but an animal protein in the form of chicken, beef, or egg," Sadikin remarked.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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