Stunting, a condition where a child’s growth and development are hampered due to malnutrition, is a significant public health problem in Indonesia.
It is a severe form of malnutrition, which can lead to poor health outcomes and cognitive impairment. The Indonesian government has been working to tackle this issue, and according to the Indonesian Nutritional Status Survey (SSGI) 2022, the prevalence of childhood stunting declined in 28 Indonesian provinces in 2022. It marks its best result since at least 2000. However, it is still a major health concern.
Improvements in Stunting Prevalence
The Ministry of Health reported that stunting prevalence declined in several provinces. They include South Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, and South Sumatra, with declines ranging from 5.4 to 6.2 per cent. The government’s intervention has helped push down the stunting prevalence in these provinces. The initiatives are anaemia screening, pregnancy checks, and the supervision of under-five children’s growth.
Additionally, to tackle stunting, the Ministry of Health is providing iron supplements to adolescent girls and pregnant women. They are also providing supplementary food to pregnant women with chronic energy deficiency. This is to reduce anaemia in pregnant women, one of the causes of stunting in babies. The ministry is also promoting exclusive breastfeeding of babies, supporting the management of malnourished under-five children, increasing immunization coverage, and educating adolescents with the help of other ministries and agencies.
Despite the improvements in several provinces, the prevalence of stunting has increased in six provinces. These include West Sulawesi, Papua, West Nusa Tenggara, West Papua, West Sumatra, and East Kalimantan.
Stunting Prevalence and its Impact
In Indonesia, the prevalence is high, with 21.6 per cent of children affected in 2022. The condition is a significant public health problem, and its effects can last a lifetime. Stunted children are more likely to suffer from infections and chronic diseases, have a lower cognitive function, and may have lower school achievement.
The ramifications of stunting last a lifetime, and leaving stunting in children unaddressed would be a significant setback to Indonesia’s future. Indonesia’s population is expected to exceed 300 million by 2045, and its per capita income is hoped to reach $23,000. Human capital is one of the prioritized sectors needed to achieve the President’s vision. Investing in programs to curb this condition in children will return in quality generations that Indonesia needs the most to reap its demographic bonus.
The government aims to reduce the national stunting prevalence to 17.8 per cent in 2023 and 14 per cent in 2024. The achievement of these goals will require the continuation of current interventions, increased funding, and stronger political will.
Stunting is a major public health problem in Indonesia, affecting millions of children. The Indonesian government has taken significant steps to reduce stunting prevalence, including providing iron supplements and supplementary food to pregnant women, promoting exclusive breastfeeding, and increasing immunization coverage. While stunting prevalence has declined in several provinces, the government must continue to work towards reducing stunting in all provinces to meet its goals of reducing national stunting prevalence. We need to make a concerted effort to tackle this issue effectively as stunting has lifelong consequences.