Jon Afrizal, Jambi – The number of children with stunted growth in East Tanjung Jabung regency, Jambi, has reached a concerning level as at least 10 out of the regency's 93 subdistricts have seen a high prevalence of stunting.
Ernawati, the head of the East Tanjung Jabung Health Agency's family health and nutrition division, said that the cases of stunting in the area were driven by bad sanitation and malnutrition among children.
"According to the 2018 Basic Health Research report issued by the Health Ministry, the figure [of stunting cases in the regency] was 40.9 percent," Ernawati said.
The subdistricts with a high prevalence of stunting include Kuala Simbur in East Muarasabak district; Padan Lagan in Geragai district; Sinar Wajo, Sungai Beras and Bukit Tempurung in Mendahara Ulu; Kota Kandis in Dendang; Rantau Rasau in Berbak; and Pematang Mayan in Rantau Rasau district.
The 2018 figure, however, was an improvement from the figure in 2013, which according to the Basic Health Research report, was 48.5 percent of stunting among children below 5 years old. The figure was considered "very high prevalence" according to World Health Organization standards.
Ernawati said stunting, which is one of the most common nutritional problems in Indonesia, affected both the physical development and IQ of stunted children. Studies have also shown that poor sanitation would lead to repeated diarrhea that would in turn cause poorer nutrition.
Separately, Jambi Health Agency head Samsiran Halim said that cases of children with stunted growth in the province had in fact gradually decreased over the last few years, from the previous 37.8 percent to 30.1 percent.
"Still, this figure is considered high if we refer to the WHO recommendation [of 20 percent]," he said.
As part of efforts to tackle the problem, the Health Agency had conducted efforts to improve the nutrition of babies during their first 1,000 days, starting from when they were still in their mother's womb until they reached 2 years old, he said.
Pregnant women suffering from malnutrition were provided with additional food and routine health checks. Toddlers, too, were checked periodically to monitor their weight and heights at integrated health service posts in their neighborhoods.
"Nutritional intervention is conducted based on the results of the measurements," Samsiran said.
Toddlers usually suffer stunting because of malnutrition. Indonesia is ranked second in Asia for stunting prevalence, after Laos, with 43.8 percent of children below 5 years old suffering from stunting. (afr)