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Asia

Indonesia successfully tackles child mortality

In 1990, the infant mortality rate in Indonesia was almost 100 per 1000 live births. But now the country is on the way to achieving the fourth millennium goal – reducing infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

Indonesia has been praised for significantly reducing its child mortality rate

Indonesia has been praised for significantly reducing its child mortality rate

It's Saturday morning at a clinic in Yogyakarta. There's not much happening today apart from a few mothers who have come with their children. They're here to get some free advice while their children play.

There are hundreds of public clinics spread among the villages of Yogyakarta. They have proven to be very useful for fighting infant and maternal mortality.

One of them has specialized in giving advice on infant nutrition and feeding. One mother is satisfied with the care provided at the clinics. "I went to a clinic to find out how much my baby weighed," she says. "I was told that my son had lost weight. They said he was ill and that is why he had lost his appetite. They recommended that I come here to the nutrition house and now he's better."

A clinic in Yogyakarta

A clinic in Yogyakarta

Awareness about nutrition

Dr Choirul Anwar, the head of the health authority in Yogyakarta says the center can help diagnose cases of undernourishment and reduce deaths related to poor nutrition, "Before it's too late, mothers can get information about healthy nutrition. We can also show them how to do things differently," says Anwar. "We also treat malnourished children here when they are not so ill that they have to go to hospital but not so well that they can get healthy at home. We look after them here."

He adds that Yogyakarta has a good health infrastructure in general. "Everyone here has access to clinics," he says. "Although Yogyakarta has a surface of only 32 square kilometers, there are 16 hospitals and 500 private doctor's practices. There are also countless birthing centers and midwives. So there is a good health system that is accessible to everyone."

Many mothers are satisfied with the care given in public clinics in Yogyakarta

Many mothers are satisfied with the care given in public clinics in Yogyakarta

Economic inequality

However, this is not the case in all of Indonesia. The richer provinces have successfully reduced infant mortality rates but remote ones such as West Sulawesi still have a long way to go. Experts say that economic inequality is one reason for the differences, as well as the fact that only 20 percent of Indonesians have health insurance.

The Indonesian health minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih says that there is not enough coordinated action against infant mortality.

"The 'mother's love' and 'mother's milk' campaigns are already underway but they could be expanded. Many mothers don't breastfeed anymore, because they have to work for example. Another program could be developed for them so that mothers who work can still breastfeed their children."

Experts say that only when such campaigns are expanded to the whole of Indonesia, to poor and rich provinces alike, will the infant mortality rate be reduced, even if there has already been a great improvement since 1990.

Author: Zaki Amrullah / act
Editor: Disha Uppal

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