COVID-19 Op-ed

Impacts of Covid-19 on the Quality of Children’s Nutrition in Indonesia

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Reni JuwitasariResearch
Associate, Asian Research Center for International Development
(ARCID),
School of Social Innovation, Mae Fah Luang
University

Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
emphasizes that State-Parties shall take appropriate measures to assist
parents and others responsible for the child in implementing the rights by
providing material and programs regarding nutrition. As a state party to CRC,
Indonesia has also included this Article in its national development plan.
However, during this outbreak, the right of children, especially those living
in rural areas of Indonesia, to nutrition is not well protected.As all of us
know by now, COVID-19 can easily be transmitted to anyone, regardless of age,
gender, race, and socio-economic status. However, its impacts are very much
felt by vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, migrant workers, and
children (Qiu, et al., 2020). They have been gravely affected physically,
psychologically, and emotionally by the ubiquitous lockdowns.Malnutrition is
a reality faced by millions of children in developing countries even before
the pandemic. In Indonesia, children are able to access nutritious food via
two channels. These channels are the nutritional programs from the
community-based preventative and promotive care (POSYANDU or Integrated
Service Stations) and school lunch project named Program Gizi Anak
Sekolah (PROGAS
or Nutrition Program for School Children). These
programs help to alleviate widespread malnutrition amongst children living in
depressed and rural areas. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 response, those
programs are forced to stop. The absence of these programs had led to hunger
to vulnerable children and left them malnourished with the possible effect on
their overall health as well as brain development. As a result, the number of
malnourished children and malnutrition levels in general in Indonesia are
predicted to increase during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Republika, 2020).
Furthermore, low-income families that rely on informal livelihood cannot
afford the basic nutritious food due to diminishing income during the
COVID-19 Pandemic. Some charity-based assistance from communities and the
government generally provide community-supported food packages stuffed with
products like instant noodles, canned-fish, canned-milk, or condensed milk.
However, these processed food are naturally unfit for children. Therefore,
the government had appealed to parents to be creative in utilizing locally
available food—but to no avail due to the lack of resources.Palpably, COVID-19
is affecting children far beyond those it directly infects. The pandemic has
disrupted families and institutions, increasing risks for children to
exposure of malnutrition. While Indonesia has made significant progress in
implementing CRC Article 27, it has failed in ensuring access to nutrition
during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is required to provide
coordinated leadership among central and peripheral governments concerning on
nutrition information, surveillance and monitoring on children activity to
ensure children getting nutritious food as not all parents understand on the
issue of malnutrition. Otherwise, without clear guidance and surveillance on
the nutrition information, Indoesia will not only be experiencing a waves of
infections, but also an sharp increase in sick and malnourished
children.References:Qiu, J.
et. al. (2020). A Nationwide Survey of Psychological Distress among Chinese
People in the COVID-19 Epidemic: Implications and Policy Recommendations.
General Psychiatry, 33(2):e100213. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7061893/Republika.
(2020). The Number of Stunting in Indonesia has been Predicted an Increase
due to Pandemic. Retrieved from: https://republika.co.id/berita/qadjjl384/angka-emstuntingem-di-indonesia-diperkirakan-naik-akibat-pandemi

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