Banda Aceh. Nearly half of infant deaths in Aceh were caused by poor nutrition, an official said on Saturday.
“More than 45 percent of babies who died in Aceh did so because they did not get sufficient nutrition,” Sulasmi, section head of the Aceh Health Office’s mother, children and nutrition divison said.
The health officer recorded 1,034 babied died in Aceh in 2013, the figure increased by 5 percent from last year.
Sulasmi said most babies who died in Aceh started to suffer poor nutrition while in their mothers’ wombs.
“Low nutrition highly affects children aged under five years old,” she said, adding that the provincial government has set a target to reduce the number of undernourished children to less than 15 percent.
That target was in line with targets set out in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
Malnutrition affects 36 percent of Indonesian children, whose growth has been stunted by ill health and a lack of vital micronutrients in their diet, according to Health Ministry figures.
East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces face the worst cases of malnutrition and growth stunting, with the number of underweight children in East Nusa Tenggara currently standing at a staggering 34 percent, according to the 2010 National Health Survey.
Stunting, one of the consequences of malnutrition, is linked to a decrease in cognitive function and negatively impacts both educational development and employment prospects.
Studies suggest that those who have been stunted receive 20 percent less earnings over the course of their lives than those from similar backgrounds who receive adequate nutrition.
A UN report released in September noted that while the Indonesian government had made great strides toward ending malnutrition among children under five, the pace of progress was slowing.
The report stated that there was a danger Indonesia could fail to slash two thirds of its national malnutrition rates by 2015, thereby missing its target in the Millennium Development Goals.