Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Health Ministry reported that all suspected moldy biscuits used as additional food (PMT) to reduce stunting had been examined at the regional procurement warehouse.

"We apologize for the quality-compromised PMT. Those biscuits were included in the 2021 PMT procurement sent to regions. Meanwhile, the 2022 PMT procurement was handled by the Government Goods/Services Procurement," the ministry's director general of public health, Maria Endang Sumiwi, stated in Jakarta, Friday.

The ministry from Tegal District, Central Java, firstly received information on these moldy biscuits. After receiving the report, Sumiwi admitted to have immediately checked the condition of each biscuit according to the batch it was sent to at the procurement warehouse by using a tool.

“I immediately checked those biscuits early in the morning at our warehouse. I checked the storage condition and others. When we arrived, we took all the batches whose production was the same as the one whose quality was compromised, so I saw all the batches myself," she stated.

After the first report, Sumiwi noted that other regions also reported a similar incident. She later conducted an inspection and found that biscuits in other places were also moldy, but the damage was not more than one percent.

Since the level of damage was not more than one percent, the Ministry of Health cannot claim to destroy all of the procurement biscuits. It was then decided that any biscuits that were still in good condition would be distributed and given to families.

However, all health services distributing the PMT must check the condition of these biscuits to avoid any harm in future and must be able to replace poor-quality biscuits.

“Actually, we want to destroy all of the biscuits but since the bad batch is only less than one percent, it cannot be destroyed. The problem is in the 2021 procurement," she explained.

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Earlier, member of Commission IX of Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR RI) from the Nasdem Fraction, Irma Chaniago, confirmed to have found several PMT biscuits at the regional health service that were moldy and of low quality.

“In my opinion, the 2019 PMT was the worst. The biscuits were moldy and of bad quality. It made sense that our president is angry," she stated.

According to Sumiwi, those biscuits were moldy as a result of the Health Ministry's coordination with regions that had been cut off. Therefore, she also criticized the decision to replace PMT with chicken or duck eggs.

Chaniago suggested that instead of replacing PMT with eggs, these biscuits can be swapped with milk or mackerel fish as a way to fulfill the requirement for animal protein for children in overcoming stunting.

She urged the Ministry of Health to bolster its coordination with the regional health service to avoid similar problems from recurring in future and maximize the budget allocation for work programs with concrete results.

"I ask the people who had just received the PMT. Have (they) ever received anything from the Health Ministry or other ministries? Have you ever received money? No. it is only dissemination of information. This should become our concern," she emphasized.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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