Nutrition and the Children of West Timor

Ilmi Suminar and Vinsen Surma | March 12, 2013

Nurse Yane is feeding Rehan Fallo high energy milk that is made of milk, sugar, vegetable oil and mineral mix. Every child treated in TFC is given nutritious food according to their condition and needs. Photo: Vinsen Surma/CWS

Nurse Yane is feeding Rehan Fallo high energy milk that is made of milk, sugar, vegetable oil and mineral mix. Every child treated in TFC is given nutritious food according to their condition and needs. Photo: Vinsen Surma/CWS

As originally published on the 1,000 Days Nutrition Newsroom blog:

Indonesia has reached some milestones towards Millennium Development Goals especially on eradicating absolute poverty and hunger. The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day dropped from 20.60% in 1990 to 5.90% in 2008, meaning that the country has already passed its target of 10.30%. In 2010 prevalence of malnutrition in children under five years of age was 4.9%, targeting 3.6% by 2015, whereas the prevalence of underweight in children under five years of age was 13.00%, targeting 11.9% by the end of MGDs period.

However, in Indonesia there are eighteen provinces where malnutrition prevalence in children under five years of age is higher than national prevalence rate, like West Timor. West Timor continues to face chronic food security crisis that leads to deteriorating nutritional and health status of its populations, especially women and children.

Sepriyane Kameo, who works as a nurse at Church World Service Indonesia’s Therapeutic Feeding Center where care and treatment are provided for children with severe malnutrition in Timur Tengah Selatan District, takes care of children suffering from lack of nutrition every day. “In TFC we take care of up to 15 babies every month,” said Yane, as her colleagues call her.

“All children who are sent to this facility look emaciated and gloomy,” she said. “They do not want to eat or drink and they do not like to interact with the other kids, “she continued. “Some children have an accompanying disease such as diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis, dermatitis or even HIV/AIDS.”

Different treatment is given to each child depending on their nutrition status, weight, age, and their need. “We give them high energy milk every morning,” explained Yane. Then, a doctor from the District Health Office will check the children and make records on their development. The nurses will also provide lunch for the kids at noon. “We give them nutritious food made from local ingredients that will help them recuperate. We give them rice or corn — carbohydrate and source of energy, which are important nutrition for the children. We also give them vegetables like beans or carrot and proteins such as fish, eggs, and beef. In addition to the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, we provide mung beans soup for the kids in the afternoon,” she further explained. “Vitamins and minerals are also included in the diets.”

The treatment could take three weeks up to over a month depending on the children’s condition when they arrived in the TFC. “If a child also suffers from an accompanying disease, the treatment can take more than a month,” said Yane, who has been working with CWS for seven years. “Rehan Fallo from Teas Village has been here for 15 days. The ten month old baby has only been taken care of by his father who works as farmer and his grandmother since his mother left their village for Malaysia to be a migrant worker.” “Parents play an important role in this process,” said Yane. “Most parents, whose children are being treated in TFC, do not have good knowledge of health and good nutrition. They did not know that good nutrition in children’s first five years of life is important for their development,” added Yane who works with four other nurses.

Besides treating the children, the nurses also provide information on health and nutrition for the parents through info sessions. The topics are various such as the importance of breastfeeding, nutritional components of local food they may have in their garden, and many others. “We also provide simple crafting projects for the parents who attend their children in the TFC so they will not get bored.”

“Our work here is not only to cure but also to educate. We want the parents to fully understand that nutrition is important for their children. Therefore, after their children are fully recovered, they would never suffer from malnutrition again,” Yane stated. “I hope that one day there will be no malnourished children in Timor Tengah Selatan District anymore.” Yane also reported, “After treatment and therapy Rehan is gaining weight, an indicator that he is recovering, and he is now more cheerful.”

By Ilmi Suminar and Vinsen Surma/CWS