Two die as malnutrition continues to ravage NTB

Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram | Mon, 05/23/2011 10:12 PM

West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is still overwhelmed by malnutrition, which reportedly claimed the lives of two children and continued to threaten 183 others as of May this year.

The NTB Health Agency’s nutrition division head, Taufik Hadi Suryanto, said malnutrition was prevalent in the province’s 10 regencies and municipalities, namely Mataram and Bima municipalities and the regencies of West Lombok, Central Lombok, East Lombok, North Lombok, West Sumbawa, Sumbawa, Dompu and Bima.

“The most cases, some 64 of them, were found in East Lombok, while the ones that claimed lives were in Dompu,” Taufik said.

Of the 183 malnutrition cases discovered, 54 have recovered since receiving medical treatment and were discharged from hospitals, according to Taufik. All malnutrition sufferers are exempt from paying for the treatment they receive at community health centers (Puskesmas) or hospitals.

Last year, the province recorded 755 cases of malnutrition, some 40 of them resulted in fatalities.

“Not all of the cases, however, are due to clinical factors such as marasmus kuarsiorkhor,” he said.

In many cases, malnutrition followed an accompanying disease such as infection, he added. He also blamed poor parenting for the condition, arguing that most of the sufferers did not exclusively receive breast milk during the first six months of their lives.

“That is why we keep disseminating information on good parenting and nutrition to the community,” he said.

One of the latest malnutrition cases was found in North Lombok where Ayu, a 16-month-old girl of Kapu village, Jenggala, Tanjung district, dropped to only 5.2 kilograms.

She has been receiving treatment at the Puskesmas Tanjung. Apart from losing weight, Ayu also suffers from pneumonia.

“She has been treated for four days,” Ahmad Wahid, from the Puskesmas Tanjung, said.

Taufik said that to curb malnutrition in the province, the NTB administration had since two years prior been developing a community-based malnutrition management program (PGBBM) in cooperation with UNICEF.

Other programs include distribution of milk and breast milk substitutes to 911 village integrated health service posts (Posyandu) and empowerment of standby subdistricts across the province.

He said there were currently 339 standby subdistricts across the province, each of which had their own subdistrict health post (Poskesdes). Each poskesdes has at least a midwife and two volunteers.

“We share the responsibility to fight against malnutrition,” he said, adding that in many cases sufferers relapsed into their diseases because their respective families had yet to change their parenting patterns and poor nutrition.

NTB has the second-lowest human development index nationally, ranked 32nd out of Indonesia’s 33 provinces.

Poverty and poor health have been blamed for the conditions regardless of the fact that a giant copper mining company has been operating in the province since 11 years ago.

Source: The Jakarta Post