Australia’s Deputy Head of Mission sees success of MITRA program in Indonesia

 Allaster Cox, deputy head of mission at the Australian embassy, visits the pharmacy at the Kupang Kota Health Centre.

 Allaster Cox, deputy head of mission at the Australian embassy, visits the pharmacy at the Kupang Kota Health Centre.

Kupang City, INDONESIA – Representatives from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Indonesia, including Deputy Head of Mission Allaster Cox, got a first-hand look at the success of the MITRA (Micronutrient Supplementation for Reducing Mortality and Morbidity in Indonesia) program on a visit to East Nusa Tenggara in August 2018.

Through MITRA, a program funded by the Government of Australia and Canada, Nutrition International is supporting the Government of Indonesia to improve health and nutrition services for pregnant women and young children in 20 high priority districts of Indonesia’s East Java and East Nusa Tenggara provinces.

“The MITRA program builds on Nutrition International’s previous successful collaborations with the Government of Indonesia over the last 10 years and we are proud to support the program,” said Sri Kusyuniati, Nutrition International’s Country Director for Indonesia. “This is an innovative partnership between the governments of Australia, Canada and Indonesia to enhance the nutritional status of vulnerable women and young children in the country.”

The delegation visited the public health centre, or puskesmas, in Kupang City, which serves a population of over 10,000. Since 2016, Nutrition International has been providing technical assistance, including training the staff of the health centre on iron and folic acid supplementation for pregnant women, vitamin A supplementation for children under five, and treatment of diarrhoea with zinc and oral rehydration salts.

“It is good to see that the technical support provided by Nutrition International is positively impacting the efforts of the public health officers in preventing iron deficiency anaemia among pregnant women and issues like diarrhoea to improve the health of children,” said Mr. Cox. “Good health and nutrition is the foundation for any person to prosper.”

The visit provided an opportunity for the deputy head of mission and his colleagues to see the various facilities at the health centre, including the maternal and children room, pharmacy and laboratory. They also spoke with pregnant women, midwives and mothers about their experiences at the health centre and how they feel it has benefitted them.

“I am happy to receive counselling from midwives using the flip chart, as well as the IFA table,” Fanny Lubalu, a 24-year-old mother, told Mr. Cox.

“Apart from training of staff, Nutrition International’s support has been helpful in improving awareness of the benefits of zinc and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea,” said Joice Tibuludji, Head of Disease Prevention and Control Section, East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Health Office. “Previously, the demand was low in the area, but since Nutrition International has supported us with education and awareness material, there is an increase in demand for zinc in the province’s 10 districts.”