Indonesia celebrated National Nutrition Day in January and the ARCH team took part in multiple events to raise awareness about nutrition. The official theme was “increase local vegetable and fruit consumption for a healthier society.”
Our team joined the Indonesia Breastfeeding Center, which represents the maternal-child health coalition (GKIA Indonesia), in conducting a poster competition for junior and senior high school students to raise awareness of the hazards of poor nutrition. Over 100 students from all over Indonesia entered. The three winners took part in a ceremony with the Minister of Health on National Nutrition Day. The poster competition proved that high school students are good health promoters to their peers, and can stimulate behavior change. In addition, using social media to send nutrition messages to the younger generation is an effective strategy.
ARCH led the organizing committee with twelve other organizations for an event called “PESTA ANAK Indonesia” or Party for Indonesian Children. The event included a talk show, interactive exhibition, and bazaar for children. ARCH staff members also led a special activity for children on how to read and understand food labels (see “Know Your Nutrition Facts Game Engages Children on Indonesia’s National Nutrition Day 2017”).
Indonesia’s children suffer a double burden of malnutrition, which includes both undernutrition and overweight. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report states that 36% of Indonesian children under age five are stunted, or chronically malnourished. A further 13.5% are wasted, or acutely malnourished. Nevertheless, 1.5 % of Indonesian children under five are overweight.
The Indonesian government has pledged to tackle this problem through the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Strategy (2011). Helen Keller International’s ARCH project is conducting a joint assessment to inform the implementation of that strategy. ARCH, which began working in Indonesia in 2016, is launching this project to investigate promotion and consumption of foods given to children six months to 36 months of age. The project will work in Bandung City, in the West Java province.
ARCH is also providing support to the government in reviewing policies which affect infant and young child nutrition, such as the Food Label & Advertising Regulation. That regulation is being revised by the Ministry of Law to ensure it incorporates suggestions from the World Health Assembly Guidance on Ending Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children.