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Malnutrition remains challenge to Indonesian children's health: reports

05-14-2012 14:41 BJT

JAKARTA, May 14 (Xinhua) - A report recently publicized by an international children health campaigner agency said that child health in Indonesia remains a major challenge largely because of malnutrition, although maternal health is improving, local media reported on Monday.

The State of the World's Mothers Report 2012, released this week by the nongovernmental organization Save the Children, had Indonesia 70th out of 83 countries in its Child Index Rank.

The country was also 46th out of 81 in the Women's Index Rank. The rankings combine to make Indonesia the 59th best country to be a mother out of a total of 80 developing countries.

Indonesia's low ranking on child health was blamed on widespread malnutrition, which has resulted in moderate to severe stunting in 40 percent of children under the age of five.

The report noted that Indonesia was among the countries "that are underperforming (on child nutrition) relative to their national wealth (GDP)."

"There has been good economic growth across Southeast Asia in the last decade, but the results show that strong policies and investments targeted at improving maternal and child health, education and women's rights are necessary," said Michel Anglade, Save the Children's campaigns and advocacy director in Asia.

The report highlights "a vicious cycle of how mothers, who may themselves have been stunted in childhood, go on to give birth to underweight babies who have not been adequately nourished in the womb."

"If a mother is impoverished, overworked, poorly educated and in poor health, she may not be able to feed the baby adequately. The damage caused by malnutrition before the age of two is largely irreversible," the group said in a statement released recently, adding that while leaps had been made in reducing child mortality, stunting remained a problem in Southeast Asia as a whole.

The Health Ministry acknowledged the high prevalence of child stunting, citing the lack of attention given to mothers during pregnancy. The ministry says it has allocated 700 billion rupiah ( about 76.3 million U.S. dollars) annually to tackle the issue.

The ministry's 2010 Basic Health Research survey found that 35. 6 percent of Indonesian children under the age of five were stunted. It has set a target of cutting that figure to 32 percent by 2014.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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