By Gloria Nantulya/ IMA World Health 

I

MA World Health is expanding the National Nutrition Communications Campaign in Indonesia following an award by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) – Indonesia.

Launched in 2014, NNCC is part of MCA-Indonesia’s community-based health and nutrition program to reduce stunting in Indonesia, an issue that affects more than one-third of Indonesians under age 5. The expansion will include the addition of eight new target districts; intensification of the mass media campaign; strengthening of interpersonal communication training in districts; and an emphasis on national-level advocacy.

We are seeing significant gains in addressing the behaviors that contribute to chronic malnutrition and stunting,” MCA Project Director Iing Mursalin says. “We see the promise of coordination and cooperation from all levels of government and partners. It is critical we build on lessons learned from the first phase in order to keep momentum and establish a strong foundation for the future.”

NNCC will use lessons learned from the first phase of the program in Landak, Kapuas and OKI districts, in its new eight districts. It will also continue to conduct community outreach activities such as outreach posyandu (outreach post) activities, mother support groups, and one-on-one counselling; use its mass media and digital campaign to disseminate and promote motivational messages on nutrition and factors that contribute to stunting; and educate and coordinate with health workers, journalists, religious leaders, government officials and other local leaders.

“This expansion gives us the opportunity to build on the successful work we are doing to address childhood stunting in Indonesia,” IMA World Health Indonesia Team Leader Iwan Hasan said. “In Indonesia, stunting affects 1 in 3 children under age 5 and we believe that this campaign has shown some positive signs in the lives of the children, families and communities that are affected. We will now be able to focus on more districts and reach more people through strategic activities.”

Stunting, which is defined as children who fall at least two standard deviations below median height for age, has significant long-term implications for overall health, physical and cognitive development, and longevity. While prevailing cultural perceptions have attributed a child’s small stature to genetics, the real problem is inadequate nutrition during the first 1,000 days from conception to age 2. Fortunately, adopting certain basic practices – such as adequate nutrition for pregnant mothers, exclusive breastfeeding, good hygiene and a nutritious, diversified diet after 6 months of age – can have a big impact and are at the core of the campaign’s messaging and educational outreach.

Since its launch, NNCC has reached more than 40 million people through its television campaign, trained 70 journalists on stunting in targeted districts, launched district-level stunting campaigns in its three target districts and launched the project website at www.gizitinggi.org.