Malnutrition is one of the indirect causes of death in children under five due to lack of food intake or the presence of co-morbidities.
In Indonesia, there are tens of millions of people who are estimated to still be malnourished. This was recorded in the latest report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. This condition shows that the problem of malnutrition and undernutrition in Indonesia needs to be a common concern.
In North Sumatra, as many as 13 regencies/Cities were declared an emergency status for stunting or chronic malnutrition. According to the 2021 Indonesian Nutrition Status Study (SSGI) data, the prevalence of stunting in North Sumatra has reached 25.8%. This figure places North Sumatra as the 17th province with the highest number of stunted children in Indonesia.
SSGI noted that the prevalence of stunting in North Sumatra is very concerning. Mandailing Natal District with a stunting prevalence of 47.1% is ranked number 2 out of 246 districts/cities in 12 priority provinces. Likewise, Padang Lawas Regency, which has a prevalence of 42%, is included in the top 10 areas with red status. In addition, the areas that also have red status in North Sumatra are Pakpak Barat, Nias, South Nias, North Nias, Dairi, North Padang Lawas, Langkat, Batubara, North Labuhanbatu, South Tapanuli, and Padangsidimpuan.
Meanwhile, those with yellow status or those with a prevalence of stunting in the range of 20-30 per cent include Samosir, Simalungun, West Nias, Labuhanbatu, South Labuhanbatu, North Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, Humbang Hasundutan, Karo, Toba, Gunungsitoli, Tanjungbalai, Sibolga, as well as Binjai. In addition, there are also those with green status, which is having a prevalence of stunting in the range of 10-20%, covering 6 regions, namely Serdang Bedagai, Deli Serdang, Asahan, Medan, Tebing Tinggi, and Pematang Siantar.
The Provincial Government of North Sumatra itself is targeting to accelerate the reduction in the stunting prevalence to 12% in 2023. This figure is lower than the national average target of 14% in 2024. The Governor of North Sumatra, Edy Rahmayadi believes this target can be achieved because, currently, the cooperation between Provinces Governments, District Governments, and Municipal Governments are getting stronger. This reducing stunting prevalence effort is also supported by the National Team for the Acceleration of Stunting Reduction, which is tasked to deal with stunting in a more concrete, effective and targeted manner. In carrying out their duties, this team works closely with the National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) to assist families.
Stunting can be prevented by providing the quick and right treatment for children under-five suffering from malnutrition to prevent further complications and to improve children’s growth and development in the future. This effort can be carried out in various ways, including strengthening early detection, and nutrition education, monitoring the toddler’s growth and development, providing Supplementary Feeding (PMT) for malnourished toddlers, establishing a Therapeutic Feeding Center (TFC) as a nutrition recovery centre in health facilities, as well as improve the nutrition care team capacities in managing malnutrition in toddlers.
As the operator of the Martabe Gold Mine, PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), which is committed to supporting the health of the community around the mine, is also supporting stunting reduction programs in North Sumatra Province through the Recovery Program for Malnourished Children to have Good Nutrition.
The program, which runs from August 9, 2022 to December 21, 2022, aims to change the malnutrition status of three toddlers who come from three different regions. One patient aged 1 year and 8 months came from Padang Lancat Sisoma Village, another patient aged 2 years and 3 months from Muara Manompas Village, and a patient aged 4 years and 6 months from Hutaraja Village.
During the program, PTAR assisted in the form of health checks, which are blood tests, X-rays, and stool examinations in the Metta Medika Padangsidimpuan Hospital laboratory. In addition, PTAR also supplied formula milk as additional nutrition, as instructed by the Pediatrician who monitors this program regularly, once every two weeks.
On January 3, 2023, the three patients were finally declared to be in good nutritional condition based on the paediatrician’s examination result. They also received certificates as a form of appreciation for having successfully participated in the Malnutrition Recovery Program.