Residents with malnourished children in Yogyakarta no longer have to worry about where to get help thanks to free services provided by the House of Nutrition.
Located in the Mantrijeron area in Yogyakarta, the center resembles a school since it not only has medical staff working to combat malnutrition and improve child health, but also teaches parents what their children need to eat.
“We heal malnourished patients. We also help transfer knowledge to parents so they can take care of their children’s nutrition independently after leaving the facility,” said the house’s nutritionist, Lilis Suryani.
The center, which has provided assistance to malnourished children since February this year, can only take eight patients at a time due to limited space and manpower.
“We treated the first batch of patients for 25 days and once their condition has improved, we send them home.
However, they have to bring the children back here periodically so we can monitor their progress,” said midwife, Rohimah Fitriani.
Patients are usually referred by community health centers. But there are those who directly register to the center, which is currently treating its second batch of patients.
Patients and parents arrive at the facility at 9 a.m. and return home at 4 p.m. every day. The initial treatment process is stabilization, or the process of administering soft nutritious intake to stimulate the digestive organs with formula food, consisting of various ingredients.
Patients arrive at the center at 9 a.m. and given formula. The children then play, while their parents attend class to discuss nutrition.
The children are again given formula before having lunch at noon and two more feeds in the afternoon.
“Before leaving, we provide them with three packs of formula to be taken at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the next morning at 6 a.m.”
Rohimah said they aim to reduce malnutrition cases in Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta Health Office data in 2009 showed out of the total 19,027 children below the age of five, 198 suffered from malnutrition.
“The real number is probably higher,” Rohimah said.
The center provides free medical examination and consultation every Tuesday and Friday for those who have not yet registered.
The presence of the new center is warmly welcomed by Yogyakartans.
“My daughter Aisyiah suffers from malnutrition because I don’t know which nutritious food I should give her. I thought that as long as she ate something and was full, it was okay,” said participant, Riyanti.
After taking part in the program for a month, the 21-year-old mother of one said she had learned a lot.
“My daughter is healthier now and I know better,” she said. “I know that nutritious food does not have to be expensive.”
Lilis said malnutrition cases in Yogyakarta reflected several causes, including economic hardship and lack of parental awareness.
She said basically, nutritious intake must comprise carbohydrate such as rice; protein such as fish and eggs; and fiber such as vegetable and fruit.
“So far, many people think that as long as they are full by eating just carbohydrates, a meal is nutritious,” Lilis said.
She said those joining the program are also expected to pass on their knowledge to other residents.
“Malnutrition can cause death and affect a child’s brain development. This issue will determine the quality of our future generation,” Lilis said.