FMCH’s Holistic Approach

Indonesia: A Holistic Approach

The causes of malnutrition and undernutrition are complex. While poverty does play a major role, it is not merely a lack of food that plagues these families.

Undernutrition occurs when not enough food is eaten and the child is repeatedly ill from infectious diseases with lowered resistance to infection and more likely to die from common childhood diseases such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections (UNICEF 2007). The ones who survive are likely to be caught up in a spiral of recurring sickness and slowed growth, often with irreversible damage to their mental and social development.

Well nourished women face fewer risks during pregnancy and childbirth and their children have a better start in life. Well nourished children perform better at school, grow into healthier adults and are able to give their own children a better start in life.

Many families in Indonesia face significant challenges in providing their families with the best opportunities for a health life. Such challenges include living in basic conditions (sharing washing and bathroom facilities with several other families in their village, sharing water that has been pumped by hand or winched up by bucket from wells in the ground and could be contaminated) and where parents are striving to earn enough to pay for household expenses with limited education and employment opportunities.

lack of education can also affect mothers’ knowledge of what best to feed their children and how to maintain health and hygiene. The health knowledge and awareness of mothers is so important, that FMCH has developed a comprehensive, self-sustaining programme to provide health and nutrition education for mothers and train health workers in the community at large. These key community resources will learn how to identify malnutrition in children that come to see them, and how to work effectively with mothers to combat it.

Illnesses, such as diarrhoea and TB, can prevent perfectly nutritious diets from being of benefit to a child. So doctors are available for consultation, free of charge, twice a week at FMCH premises. They also give the children monthly check-ups to monitor progress.

While poverty is not the only cause of malnutrition, it is a significant contributing factor. Thus FMCH runs skill-building activities for mothers that teach them income generating skills.

Finally, addressing their psychological, social and educational development, children from poor families can also participate in early childhood education programmes that meets up to five times each week.