Monday, July 7, 2008

Malnutrition in Indonesia linked to decline in breastfeeding

Asia News Network
First Posted 17:41:00 07/07/2008

JAKARTA -- A decline in breastfeeding practice in Indonesia is one of the primary causes of the rise in child malnutrition in the country, a UN official said.

Head of the health and nutrition section at Unicef Indonesia, Anne H. Vincent, said that in 2007 only 7.2 percent of children in the country were breastfed exclusively until the age of six months, from 7.8 percent in 2002. On average, Indonesian children are breastfed exclusively for less than two months.

The UN body has found one in every four children in the country suffers from malnutrition. Regions in Indonesia have reported deaths of children due to malnutrition. From January to June this year, some 31 malnutrition-related deaths of children under the age of five were reported in East Nusa Tenggara, 20 in West Nusa Tenggara, 10 in Lebak, Banten, and five in Bone, South Sulawesi.

Vincent said the primary cause of malnutrition was poor infant feeding practices, like inadequate breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

According to a Unicef review of data from 42 countries, exclusive breastfeeding proved to have the highest impact (13 percent) on saving lives of children under the age of five.

"Exclusive breastfeeding for six months can save more than 30,000 Indonesian children from dying each year," Vincent said recently.

Malnourished children are more prone to infectious diseases such as diarrhea and upper respiratory infections.

Barriers to breastfeeding in Indonesia include low awareness of the benefits due to inadequate counseling and support. For working mothers, a lack of supporting facilities such as designated space in the workplace for breastfeeding and adequate maternity leave to support six months of exclusive breastfeeding also hinders the program.

While breastfeeding rates are declining, sales of infant formula have nearly doubled in the last five years.

According to Vincent, aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes by companies is another challenge for the breastfeeding campaign.

International code on breastmilk substitute marketing bans promotional campaigns for the products. In Indonesia this ban is regulated under a 1997 ministerial decree. A legislative draft on breastmilk substitute marketing is still being discussed.

The Association of Baby Food Producers' head of government relations and Frisian Flag director Hendro H. Poedjono said the association had set up a team to monitors violations.

He said the team had handed down sanctions to members that broke regulations. "Every month around one or two members are sanctioned," he said.

He said promotions for breastmilk substitutes sometimes were conducted by retailers, not producers.

"Supermarkets sometimes have their own policies, they organize promotions, or offer discounts on certain products, including infant formula, without our knowledge," he said. Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post-ANN

Friday, April 18, 2008

2nd International Conference on RH Management

More than a decade after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo and eight years in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many public, civil society and private development organizations have already accumulated a wealth of experience in managing the implementation of reproductive health (RH) interventions to achieve results and create impact in target communities. Scaling up or replicating what really works at the community level will facilitate the attainment of the MDGs by the year 2015.

Reproductive health management (RHM) deals with maximizing the potentials of individuals, groups, and institutions working in the reproductive health sector in designing, implementing and sustaining specific initiatives aimed at addressing relevant community aspirations and needs while contributing to the attainment of the MDGs. It has six functional areas: (1) governance, policy, ethics and standards; (2) organization and human resource development and management; (3) knowledge management; (4) service delivery and operations management; (5) resource mobilization, partnership and alliance building; and (6) social entrepreneurship and enterprise development, institutionalization, and sustainability. In addition RHM deals with 10 elements or concerns of reproductive health as defined by the ICPD.

Recognizing the need to properly manage reproductive health initiatives, the Asia Pacific RHealth and Development Center (APRHDC) of the Philippines NGO Support Program, Inc (PHANSuP) organized the first ICRHM conference on 2006, in Manila with the supported of European Commission, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund and the Australian Agency for International Development. The conference theme was "Creating the Impact in Communities: are we ready for the future?". The conference was attended by 625 participants from 11 countries and many international donors and communities. The conference was very successful in sharing the lesson learned of reproductive health management across the communities, organization, and countries.

In the second ICRHM, participants will share their current expertise and experiences in managing the reproductive health program for achieving the better results and impact. The conference will give special emphasis on discussing the management of family planning program. It will also highlight critical issues of reproductive health programs, such as access, quality, leadership, community participation, and youth empowerment.

Family planning is critical to economic development and poverty reduction. It has demonstrated its effect on reducing the maternal deaths and suffering, reversing the HIV/AID epidemic, improving the gender equality and promoting the youth empowerment. Better access to safe and affordable contraceptive methods will accelerate the achievement of) MDGs. Therefore contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) now has become an indicator of MDGs.

However, post ICPD 1994, International as well as national commitment towards family planning programs has been dwindling. There is a large funding gap between what is needed and what is currently being mobilized for family planning. In fact, donor assistance for family planning as a percentage of all population assistance has decreased considerably since Cairo, from 55 per cent in 1995 to around 16 per cent in 2007. Decentralization in many developing countries also is causing the family planning programs less priority by the local government.


ICRHM aims to provide an opportunity for participants to develop a common agenda and build a consensus on ways to best pursue it, to share learning across individuals and organizations, to build skills, and to renew commitments to continue their work. Towards this end, ICRHM2008 will:

1. highlight current and emergent practices in managing reproductive health in relation to other development concerns;
2. identify gaps, gains, lessons, insights, challenges and opportunities in pursuing multiple priorities in the area of reproductive health and development; and
3. reach a consensus on future actions to advance reproductive health management in accelerating the achievement of MDGs


ICRHM2008 focuses on how best to manage specific reproductive health initiatives with special emphasis on family planning in the light of equally pressing concerns that affect the living conditions of people particularly in developing countries. Thus the conference will adopt the theme "Convergence: working together for Results and Impact".

And thus we would like to invite everyone to visit the website and join in the upcoming conference entitled “2nd International Conference on Reproductive Health Management (ICRHM) 2008” which will be held on 6 - 8 May 2008 in Kuta, Bali - Indonesia.

Click here to visit ICRHM2008 Website.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Indonesia maintains polygamy restrictions

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's constitutional court on Wednesday rejected a high-profile request to scrap restrictions on polygamy filed by a lawyer who argued that it ran counter to the teachings of Islam.

"We reject the demand of the plaintiff," constitutional court chairman Jimly Asshiddiqie said, reading the verdict in a case that has grabbed headlines and stoked debate across Indonesia.

He said polygamy was permitted under the law, but only under strict conditions.

Muhammad Isan, who filed the demand, had argued that the restrictions on polygamy effectively encouraged extra-marital affairs, prostitution and divorce, and said polygamy was justified by a higher ratio of women to men.

But the court said "the arguments presented by the plaintiff do not stand."

Asshiddiqie said polygamy had existed long before Islam came into being and religious authorities, he said, had gradually seen to it that polygamy did not lead to men tyrannizing women.

"One of the most important requirements is fairness," he said, adding that it was the duty of the government to step in and apply regulations and laws.

Any increase in divorce, prostitution and extra-marital affairs was "not merely related to whether there is polygamy or not, but also related to the socio-economic conditions of individuals, and more importantly, the morals and ethics of the said individuals," Asshiddiqie said.

The court also cited official data showing that men in fact accounted for around 50.2 percent of Indonesia's population, the world's fourth largest.

Isan told journalists he was disappointed in the outcome, which under Indonesian law cannot be appealed.

Islam permits up to four wives but some mostly Muslim nations such as Tunisia have banned polygamy.

Polygamy for men is permitted in Indonesia if a wife can no longer "perform her duties", is an invalid, suffers from an incurable disease, or is infertile. Approval to take another wife must also be obtained from a religious court and from the first wife. Government officials must also obtain permission from their immediate superior to engage in polygamy.

More than 90 percent of Indonesia's population is Muslim but most follow a moderate version of the faith.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dialogue with Professor Muhammad Yunus

Prof Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize awardee had a 3 hour discussion with the heads of UN agencies, NGOs and the Media in Indonesia held in the UN Building last August 10, 2007. He is in Jakarta on a five-day state visit at the invitation of the President of Indonesia.

Prof Yunus shared with us his story of the Grameen Bank--how he started with US$27 as the lending seed money from his pocket which has grown to US$6 billion--how a very simple initiative expanded from 42 women in one village to some 7 million in 78,000 villages then to some 37 countries. It was an amazing story and he is a great speaker---people were really moved by his story. He is now advocating for business for social cause and not just for profit. He thinks that this is the way we can achieve the MDGs and beyond and make them sustainable. He also answered some interesting questions from the audience. One such question was why Grameen Bank interest money should not be considered 'sin' as per Islamic interpretation? He said that the Grameen Bank is owned by the borrower themselves; so how can it be a 'sin for the people who are paying interest to themselves to sustain the programme'?

Another interesting phenomenon he revealed that each of the Grameen Bank branch is established without any seed money. The branch managers are given a village to choose and then they ask the villagers if they want a bank in that village or not. If they want, they are asked to deposit their share and the bank manager is given one year time to reach a break-even point. All running cost, including the salary of the manager comes from the profits (interest) earned. The Bank has not borrowed any money from any donors since 1995.

Prof Yunus said that now he is also focusing on health issues because he believes that ill health and the cost of health care is one of the major barriers to overcome poverty.

written by: Zahid Huque
UNFPA Representative
Jakarta, Indonesia

Read more about GRAMEEN BANK and Prof. Yunus here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

GM crops can help achieve UN Millenium Dev’t Goals

Culled from The Philippine Star
By Rudy A. Fernandez
Sunday, August 5, 2007

JAKARTA — Genetically modified (GM) crops can help humankind attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set by the United Nations, it was asserted here recently by an internationally known research administrator.

“By far, the most important potential contribution of biotech crops will be their contribution to the humanitarian Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and hunger by 50 percent by 2015,” stressed Dr. Clive James, founder and president of the International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

His forum was an international symposium on biotechnology held at the Indonesian Department of Agriculture in this capital city organized by Indonesian biotechnology entities.

The symposium was supported by the Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium, Indonesian Biotechnology Student Forum, Indonesia-based Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Center for Tropical Biology (SEAMEO-BIOTROP), and ISAAA.

The participants included scientists, researchers, members of the academe, industry, and media practitioners, among them this writer.

The UN Millennium Development Goals form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions.

Eight goals have been identified and set to be accomplished by 2015.

First in the list of the eight MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, followed by achievement of universal primary education.

The others are promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Dr. James pointed out that the rapid growth of the world population continues to spawn problems of global dimension, particularly poverty and hunger.

As of 1999, he said, the world’s population hit the six billion mark. By 2050, there shall be nine billion people inhabiting planet earth.

Against the grim backdrop of population explosion is the diminution of crop lands.

Continue reading the article here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

MDGs by 2015

How costly is it to achieve the MDG of halving poverty by 2015?

Narrowing the GAP between the rich and the poor

How did Indonesia narrow the poor rich gap in the use of the delivery services by professional attendants?

A recent study conducted by IMMPACT demonstrated that deployment of large number of village midwives (Bidan di desa) during 1991-97 in Indonesia resulted in major increase in the attendance of deliveries by medically trained professionals. The most remarkable finding is that the women of the lowest 40 percent of economic status received much of the benefits from this intervention. However, life saving intervention, like Caesarean Section still remains very low among the poor people. (Laurel et al. 2006)

How do we ensure social protection for the poorest?

How many are poor in Indonesia?

The number of poor people currently living in Indonesia varies depending on the definition we use. According the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) there were 39 Million People living below the national poverty line in 2006. This number increases to 116 Million if the poverty line is set at US$2 day. However, the number of poor is only 16 Million if the poverty line is considered at US$1/day.

The government aims to reduce the number of people living below the national poverty line to 18.8 Million by 2009.

Note: The methodology for estimatiing the number of poor using the national poverty line was changed in 1996.


Does micro-credit help empower women?

How does micro-credit improve access of women to reproductive health services and information?

Does conditional cash transfer work for increased access to reproductive health services?