Jakarta (ANTARA) - Director General of Islamic Community Guidance of the Religious Affairs Ministry, Kamaruddin Amin, stated that the marriage counseling program run by his office can help to prevent or suppress stunting prevalence.

"Our research showed a positive correlation between bimwin (marriage counseling) and family resilience. We have issued a circular to all religious affairs offices (KUAs) to remind prospective brides and grooms to take part in bimwin," he noted in a statement from his office on Tuesday.

During the counseling, Amin remarked that prospective brides and grooms gained a lot of insight, including ways to become good mothers, wives, fathers, and husbands, to educate children, handle health issues, and ensure family financial security.

"So far, the program is not mandatory, only targeting 20 to 30 percent. In the future, all prospective brides and grooms must take part in this counseling," he emphasized.

Meanwhile, Deputy for Human Development, Society, and Culture of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Amich Alhumami, said that stunting is a national and crucial issue.

Hence, all parties are required to overcome this problem, including the Religious Affairs Ministry and KUA, which play a major role in the religious development sector, including stunting prevention, he noted.

"The ministry can help to disseminate education, especially to the prospective bride and groom, through marriage counseling," he remarked.

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He noted that in 2008, seven million of the 21 million toddlers in Indonesia experienced stunting. In 2023, they were already in junior high school and became part of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measurement sample.

"The results showed that Indonesia had high stunting prevalence, in parallel with the low PISA results," he stated.

Based on these figures, Alhumami said that stunting is a national and crucial issue, especially since Indonesia will face a demographic bonus peak in the 2026-2033 period.

In addition, he noted that the determining factors for stunting can occur during pregnancy.

Hence, the ministry's marriage counseling program can provide an early understanding on marriage and family, including pregnancy preparation, he stated.

"Our younger generation must understand the pregnancy period and the first 1,000 days of life, as it is the starting point for a child's development period. If a toddler has stunting and is not handled properly, the cognitive damage will be permanent," he emphasized. (INE) Related news: Investing in children's nutrition for a better future

Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
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