WEST JAVA, INDONESIA – The Micronutrient Initiative (MI) hosted Canadian parliamentarians at a high school and a health centre in Purwakarta district, West Java, Indonesia on August 31 to see first-hand how MI works to improve the nutrition and health of women and adolescent girls.
The three Members of Parliament – Pam Damoff, Douglas Eyolfson and Brenda Shanahan – first visited SMAN 1 Campaka Public High School, where students receive Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFAS) as part of MI’s programs to help reduce anaemia in adolescent girls in Indonesia. They also toured the Puskersmas Campaka Primary Health Centre, interacted with health officials, workers and beneficiaries, and learned about the services offered to women and their children before, during and after pregnancy ― including iron and folic acid supplementation for pregnant women, consultations with midwives, and nutrition counselling.
Many of the students and women commented on the benefits of the program and the difference it is making in their lives.
When asked by Eyolfson if she consumed the IFA tablets regularly, one future mother nodded her head. “This will be my first born; I want my baby to be healthy,” she said.
The Parliamentarians’ trip to Indonesia, which aimed to provide them with an opportunity to learn more about equity and barriers to accessing health in Indonesia, was organized by RESULTS Canada, an advocacy group that generates public and political will to end underlying aspects of poverty.
Despite Indonesia’s economic progress, the country continues to be faced with the challenge of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, particularly among women and children, many of whom suffer recurrent health issues and are unable to lead productive lives. About 37% of pregnant women are estimated to be anaemic, which severely impacts pregnancies, causing excessive bleeding, low-birth weight babies and even death.
Through the Right Start Initiative in Indonesia ― with the support of the Government of Canada ― MI will reach 18.8 million women of reproductive age and adolescent girls in Indonesia with better nutrition through WIFAS and wheat flour fortification by 2020. MI also supports the implementation of MITRA, a multi-government program which aims to improve health and nutrition services in 20 high priority districts of Indonesia’s East Java and East Nusa Tenggara provinces.