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Infant malnutrion on rise in Indonesia's NTB

Publication Date : 26-02-2013


Malnutrition remains a serious problem for the Indonesian province of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). During the past year, 13 out of 93 malnourished children under five, who were receiving medical treatment at the NTB General Hospital (RSUP), died.

In 2011, the hospital treated 72 infants with malnutrition, 12 of whom died.

The RSUP NTB deputy director for care services, Lalu Ahmadijaya, said that malnutrition-related complications caused the death of most of the children. “Most of them died of lung inflammation and acute infections,” he told journalists on Monday.

In many cases, fatality is caused by parents’ reluctance to take their children to community health centres (Puskesmas) or hospitals. Children were admitted to RSUP NTB only when their illness was already at an advanced stage.

Most malnourished patients often suffer from complications such as pneumonitis, pleuritis, tuberculosis, digestive tract infections, and birth defects, he explained.

“Most of the patients have illnesses that cause weight loss. Almost all of the children are malnourished because they lack food,” said Ahmadijaya.

Poor parenting and unhygienic living conditions remain the leading causes of malnutrition in Indonesia. Early detection through the primary health care system in community health centres does not yet function optimally. Parents remain unable or unwilling to take their children to health care facilities for checkups.

As of February, the RSUP NTB has treated 11 patients for malnourishment. All have complications. Four remain in the hospital.

Egi Ervina, a two-year-old from Bayan in Lombok Utara, was admitted to RSUP NTB a week ago. He suffers from lung inflammation and cardiac dysfunction. He weighs only eight kilograms and his stomach is swollen.

“Doctors diagnosed him with malnutrition. We brought him here because he was short of breath,” Egi’s mother, Siti Nasfiah, 23, told journalists at Room 213 of the hospital’s Dahlia ward.

Erna Maryati, a three-month-old infant from Narmada in Lombok Barat, has been treated at the hospital for a month. She was diagnosed with disorders in her mouth. She also suffers from tuberculosis and heart problems.

Dewi Sangawati, pediatrician at the RSUP NTB and member of that malnutrition team at the hospital, said it took quite a long time for malnourished children to recover.

“They have to recover from their complications first, and then we can start to manage their body weight,” she said, adding that few parents in the province were aware enough to bring their children to integrated health posts.


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