Malnutrition and Breastfeeding in Indonesia

breastfeeding Indonesia

In the world’s fourth most populated country, Indonesia, exclusive breastfeeding is less popular than one might think. Despite the well documented health benefits of breastfeeding such as healthy weight and naturally created nutrients, an Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey from 2002 and 2003 reported that only 14% of women in Indonesia breastfeed. In a more recent study, breast-feeding fell by 10% between 2007 and 2008.

These statistics prove to be disturbing in a country where, according to UNICEF, 37% of children suffer from malnutrition and stunting that results in the delay of mental and physical development which also leads to disease susceptibility. In a search to remedy the situation, formula companies are facing new laws and regulations that will prevent them from targeting mothers with children under the age of one. The Indonesian government estimates that 30,000 young children could be saved simply by being exclusively breastfed until the age of six months. After the six month bench mark, mothers are encouraged to supplement the diet with other foods.

Laws are already in place promoting breastfeeding, but do not have any repercussions for violation. The new laws will enforce the current regulations as well as implement new regulations for formula companies. Iip Syaiful, a nutrition expert from the Ministry of Health, said that the new laws will penalize companies and individuals that “intentionally hamper exclusive breastfeeding” and could face jail terms up to one year or maximum fines of US$32,000.

Regardless of the current laws, many women in Indonesia are guided towards formula use soon after giving birth. The Health Ministry admitted many health workers had “not received the knowledge about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding”.

– Kira Maixner
Source Irin News
Photo Kalyanamitra