National stunting rate targeted to be down to 14% by 2024

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Head of the National Population and Family Planning Board (Badan Kependudukan dan Keluarga Berencana Nasional – “BKKBN”) Hasto Wardoyo. (Photo: KLIKDOKTER)

IO – Deputy Minister of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration Budi Arie Setiadi held a meeting with the Head of the National Population and Family Planning Board (Badan KependudukandanKeluargaBerencanaNasional– “BKKBN”), Hasto Wardoyo, to discuss the acceleration on national mitigation of stunting at the Ministry of Villages’ Office on Monday (01/02/2021).

Earlier, President Joko Widodo has appointed Hasto Wardoyo as the Head of BKKBN to head the Task Force for Accelerating stunting reduction and to reduce national stunting rate to 14% by 2024. BKKBN is entrusted to lead the stunting reduction program because it has a strong network down to grassroot levels of society. The President has special concern about stunting, as restricted growth of Indonesian children will affect their quality as human resources when they grow up.

Stunting rate in Indonesia is currently 27.6% of the population, or about 1.2 million children. The Government sets the target for reducing stunting by half. The majority of stunting is suffered by rural area folk. Therefore, the Ministry of Villages need to synergize with a number of other stakeholders with programs involving villages. “We are set to lower the national stunting rate to 14% by 2024. In other words, we set to lower the stunting rate by 2.7% in the next 3.5 years,” Hasto said.

Hasto further stated that in order to achieve this target, BKKBN must be able to suppress stunting down to 680,000 children a year. “If we go lower than that, it will be very hard to achieve 14%,” he said. “In order to achieve this target, we need to station midwives, Family Welfare Movement (Pemberdayaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga – “PKK”) guides, and family planning guides in rural areas, with their higher stunting rate. We use these officials to monitor these pregnant rural mothers by ensuring that they obtain good nutrition and maintain good pregnancies and childbirths.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has endured from early 2020 until now, affects stunting in Indonesia. “There are two impact categories, direct and indirect impacts,” Budi said. “The direct impact is that neonates (newborn babies) cannot get health treatment easily like they did before the  pandemic.  Parents  nowadays tend to hesitate to check their babies and children’s health, because they fear that the weakened children will contract COVID-19 if made to wait for treatment in crowded health facility waiting rooms. This might increase the stunting rate, because growth is directly affected by nutrition and illness. The indirect impacts include increased poverty, unemployment, early marriages, divorces, and increased pregnancies with no interval between births. These are our biggest concerns.”

Deputy Minister Budi further stated that the Ministry places the acceleration of stunting mitigation at a high priority by setting policies that direct the use of village funds for this purpose. He further agrees that accelerating stunting mitigation is only possible if one cooperates with and involves Regional Governments. “I am optimistic that the synergy and collaboration between Ministries and Agencies, that also involve Regional Governments will be able to resolve the issue of stunting in Indonesia, especially in rural areas. The 14% national stunting target is surely achievable by 2024,” he said. (eka)