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PHMF Steps Up to Fund 5,000 Smart Charts to Fight Stunting

Childhood stunting has recently garnered national attention, with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo elevating the issue to a national priority, and targeting a drop in stunting prevalence to 14% by 2024. More than 9 million children under 5 are stunted, and 54% of Indonesia’s workforce is stunted. Stunting is the impaired growth and development a child experiences due to insufficient nutrition intake, poor hygiene, and frequent infections during the first 1,000 days of life. Little can be done to reverse damage incurred between conception and child’s 2nd birthday: a 2-year-old’s brain has already reached almost 80% of its adult size. Stunted children are 10 times more likely to suffer from preventable childhood diseases.

Simply put, stunting is the most heartbreaking and avoidable crisis facing Indonesia today.

The Government of Indonesia recognises that to accelerate progress and ensure effective utilization of resources, it needs to improve the convergence of policies and prioritize training and household-level interventions for mothers and children under 2 years of age. Against this backdrop, the Government of Indonesia launched the National Strategy to Accelerate Stunting Prevention (StraNas) in 2018 to strengthen the execution of existing multi-sectoral policy frameworks and drive consolidation and convergence of national and sub-national programmes.

Meanwhile, because of COVID, 60% of Posyandu (village-level health posts) are closed, this means that 15 million pregnant mothers and kids under 2 are not getting any of the counseling they deserve as citizens. Even worse, Puskesmas budgets have been refocused (read: cut) by 40% to repurpose to COVID. So basic antenatal care services and everything we need to fight stunting on the frontlines is being thrown off the rails. Most experts estimate that the national stunting rate in Indonesia will go back up to over 33% in 2021.

Over the last two years the 1000 Days Fund has distributed more than 120,000 smart charts across 28 islands. More importantly, the organization has trained more than 800 frontline village health volunteers, whose new knowledge and expertise will save lives for generations. The 1000 Days Fund continues to test and identify potential barriers and challenges to mainstreaming village-level stunting interventions. They also develop a strong understanding of how frontline village health workers interact with caregivers, and key messages to address sector-wide challenges and barriers.

Recognizing that hard-fought gains made in stunting prevention are at risk without critical stunting services the 1000 Days Fund is working with partners like Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) to accelerate the distribution of easy-to-use tools deployed at the village-level, ensuring equitable access for the millions of mothers that need it.

The 5,000 smart charts will be deployed alongside training and monitoring and evaluation to ensure that mothers understand three key messages: What is stunting, why it is important to prevent, and what they need to do to keep their child safe from the devastating effects of stunting. 

The 1000 Days distributes smart charts to houses with pregnant mothers and/or children under  the age of 2 years. While visiting houses, NGOs and community health workers conduct: (a) Pre and Post Test;  b) smart chart installation and children’s measurement; and (c) spot-check of smart charts installed along with one-on-one counseling with mothers and/or primary caregivers (grandmother/father in some instances) on the ways to prevent stunting, as visualized on the upper part of the smart chart and an emotional demonstration (emo-demo) of why stunting prevention is critical during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

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