Bontang, East Kalimantan. A surprise inspection by members of Bontang’s legislative council at several community health centers found 38 infants suffering from malnutrition.
Only 26 cases of malnutrition were recorded last year.
“We found 38 infants in the North Bontang subdistrict suffering from poor nutrition and the lack of nutrition,” Listianingsih, a member of Bontang’s legislative council’s Commission I, said on Tuesday.
Listianingsih attributed the high number of malnutrition cases to poverty, explaining that parents were unable to provide sufficient nutrition to their children during pregnancy and after birth.
Listianingsih also lamented the Bontang city administration’s slow implementation of a program aimed to provide infants from underprivileged families with supplemental food. That is despite the Bontang Health Agency and provincial legislative council being allocated Rp 254 million ($27,000) for the program this year.
“I would like to call on the government, in this case the health agency, to accelerate the supplemental food program for infants from underprivileged families, the legislator said. “I want this program to be put on the priority list. Stop delaying it because this concerns the future of our children.”
Bontang Health Agency secretary Asdar Ibrahim said that the data stated by the legislators was invalid and it was just an assumption. He added that more observations would be needed to get an accurate number. “For us, the data about 38 infants suffering from malnutrition is just an assumption. Abnormal weight and height could’ve been caused by other illnesses.”
Regarding the slow food program, Asdar cited technical problems in the program’s auction process as the reason.
He said that the agency proposed for an auction to be held since March but the plan was scrapped due to technical problem. He added that every project worth more than Rp 200 million must go through an auction.
“We will find a formula so that the food program can be utilized immediately,” he said. “In the future, we will ask for a special regulation for programs organized by the health agency related to drug and supplement food procurement.”
Poor knowledge of basic health care and a lack of sanitation are contributing to the high number of deaths among children under the age of 5 in Indonesia.
Child deaths are more than three times more likely to occur in poor families.