APR Sets Up Nutrition Monitoring Posts to Prevent Stunting
Stunting is a health condition characterised by impaired growth and development in children which is caused mainly by chronic malnutrition and repeated infections during the child’s first 1,000 days of life. Besides causing a child to be obviously small for their age, stunting can also result in longer term health issues, including reduced IQ and greater susceptibility to diabetes and cancer.
In Indonesia, one in every four children under the age of five suffers from stunting. This is why stunting prevention and reduction has long been a public health priority for the nation’s government, which relies on local Integrated Service Posts (Posyandu) and Public Health Centres (Puskesmas) to play vital roles in the national stunting prevention agenda.
Since 2019, Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) has been working together with Posyandu and Puskesmas, as well as members of local Family Welfare Programme (Pemberdayaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga/PKK) to carry out stunting prevention and reduction initiatives in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau.
Most recently, APR helped to set up 16 Nutrition Monitoring Posts around Pangkalan Kerinci – including in the vicinity of the company’s operational areas.
These posts, which began operating in August 2020, are meant to help prevent and reduce stunting in the area through an intensive education and monitoring program.
Binahindra Logiardi, APR Community Development Manager, said the program in turn will help accelerate the government’s fight against childhood stunting nationally.
With the Indonesian population facing multiple nutritional issues including low BMI and malnutrition, education and monitoring centres like the Nutrition Monitoring Posts are highly needed, she added.
Each post is attended by three nutritionists who provide parents with education on child nutrition, and help monitor the growth of their children. Growth monitoring is the regular measurement of children’s sizes, the results of which can be used to determine the nutritional status of a group and to decide if intervention is required.
There are several classes available for interested participants at the Nutrition Monitoring Posts. Participating parents will start by taking written tests to assess their initial nutritional knowledge, which are followed by activities such as counseling and cooking demonstrations which aim to improve their knowledge of nutritious meal choices for their children. Another test will be taken at the end of the classes, to check that parents now have a better understanding of child nutrition.
Ida, a representative of the Family Welfare Programme in East Pangkalan Kerinci sub-district, said that the classes will help her team to encourage mothers in their area to be more selective when it comes to choosing food which will be good for their children, as well as help pregnant women ensure they are maintaining balanced diets.
“One of the main causes of stunting is poor nutrition – not only in the children but in the mothers as well when they’re pregnant. So, a huge part of our work is actually to encourage both mother and child to maintain balanced diets,” Ida said.
Ria, a young mother who has participated in the classes, said they really opened her eyes towards the importance of proper nutrition intake, and how it should be non-negotiable for all children, pregnant, and breastfeeding mothers.
“There are really so many important things to be noted from the class, including the fact that cooking healthy food at home is cheap and easy. I can’t wait to try recreating the menu which was taught to us during the class, and have my family try the meals,” Ria said.
Mothers who are unable to breastfeed their babies also receive free supplementary food for children, such as baby formula and baby biscuits from APR at the Nutrition Monitoring Posts.
APR and its co-located sister company, APRIL, will continue to carry out stunting prevention and reduction programs in collaboration with more government health centers in the Pangkalan Kerinci district. To date, APR has worked together with 31 Integrated Service Posts.