Family as the Main Unit Towards Zero Stunting

Written by: Banu Priyonggo, Office Manager FMCH Indonesia

Family is the first place in getting lessons about religious life, social life, being a place to get protection, comfort, love, and even being a medium to raise awareness of the importance of health. The function of the family is very important to shape intelligence, social life, and the growth and development of a child, especially during this pandemic which inevitably demands the role of every family member to support and strengthen one another.

As a person who works in the field of maternal and child health, I believe that the family can be the main place in fighting complex health problems in Indonesia. One of them is stunting. Thank God that for the past few years, this issue has become a common concern so that information disclosure has begun to spread to remote areas. The lack of information obtained in the family unit can be the root of why stunting continues to thrive in Indonesia. Now imagine. Babies or children get access to food only from their dependants. In this context, from their parents only. What if they do not get a good nutritional intake? I am sure it could be the entrance for them to being stunted. 

Research by Januarti and Priyanto  (Family Empowerment Model in Stunting Prevention Based on Family-Centered Nursing, 2020), it was found that empowered families influence stunting prevention. In my opinion, being empowered means that this family has good knowledge and abilities about something, one of which is stunting. Therefore, family members, especially fathers and mothers, must equip themselves with good knowledge about stunting prevention. It can be by looking for references from various trusted sites, sharing with fellow parents, or even consulting with doctors. In addition, FMCH Indonesia designs educational programs that support the realization of empowered families. The name of the program is Health Education Session, where parents will be provided with various kinds of health knowledge, including related to stunting.

Citing the website, stunting is a condition of lack of nutrition in infants in the first 1000 days of life which causes stunted growth and development of children. The results of the Indonesian Toddler Nutrition Status Survey (SSGBI) stated that in 2019 the stunting rate decreased by 3% compared to the previous year from 30.8% to 27.67%. But this figure is still higher when compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 20%.

Since its inception, fighting malnutrition all the time in various ways is the main vision of FMCH Indonesia. Therefore, when it comes to stunting, this cannot be separated from our intervention, particularly in our assisted areas. In addition to carrying out routine activities such as monitoring children’s growth and development, healthy food cooking classes, classes for pregnant women, and educational sessions, FMCH Indonesia has begun to expand its intervention into agriculture.

In collaboration with the New Zealand Embassy, FMCH Indonesia will tackle stunting through the Nutrition Garden program. This program relies on the family as the main gateway to zero stunting with the driving tool through the Nutrition Garden. Where this garden will later be installed in every yard of the house of our assisted family.

We are going to implement this program in Nusa Tenggara Timur, precisely in Nunleu Village, Amanatun Selatan District. This province is in the top 5 with the highest stunting cases in Indonesia. In detail, 552 children in Amanatun Selatan are stunted from 13 villages. Nunleu village itself is 1 of the 13 villages with high stunting cases (Puskesmas Oinlasi, 2019). Especially in the last 2 years during the pandemic, this number is predicted to increase. Because our mobility is limited around the family, this Nutrition Garden is expected to be one way to reduce the number of stunting cases in this sub-district.

Not only to achieve zero stunting, gardening together can be an activity to unite families. Children are not bored because they run out of activities and can help the family’s economy because they can meet some of the family’s food needs. When some of the needs have been met, it will certainly not add to the burden on parents’ minds in this uncertain time. When parents and children are happy, the family will certainly be more complete and strong.

The results from the Nutrition Garden are also definitely well controlled because they are processed by their own hands. Nutritional intake for infants and toddlers is also met, especially in their first 1000 days of life. Furthermore, this program also collaborates with stakeholders and local health workers in the implementation process. The hope is that when it can be started from the yard of each family, it can be increased to the village, sub-district, district, and even provincial levels. Moreover, we hope this program can also be adopted by all families out there in Indonesia.

FMCH Indonesia truly believes that children’s good nutritional intake comes from what they get in their respective families. Through this 2021 National Family Day, let’s hand in hand, remembering the function of the family. Let’s move together in each family to make sure our family could be the best place towards zero stunting. 

Written by: Banu Priyonggo, Office Manager FMCH Indonesia

Edited by: Brigita Rumung, Media and Communications FMCH Indonesia