An OTIFA volunteer ‘on her way to save a child’, using a ‘KlikQuick’ motorcycle service

Jackets for the OTIFA volunteers

OTIFA volunteers with a mother and her child

Among the measurements done to assess a child’s nutritional status is the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC)

Outreach Therapeutic Infant Food Agency

Malnourishment in Indonesia

In the ‘desa’, the Indonesian country side, traditions of arranged or even ‘paid’ marriages of very young women continue even today. Often these women have children and then become divorced, which contributes to around 40% of malnourished or undernourished children in Indonesia. The first 1,000 days of a child – starting from the day of conception – are decisive for the development of key organs including brain, heart, and liver. Malnourishment prevents children from living up to their full potential. Families of malnourished children appear to underestimate the cause and consequences, which prevents timely action. Several layers of Indonesian authorities, NGOs, and medical services appear to insufficiently coordinate and cooperate to combat this threat to Indonesia’s children.

Multi-stakeholder Involvement

Building on the growing awareness of malnourishment and growth stunting, the Outreach Therapeutic Infant Food Agency (OTIFA) represents an effort to create a multi-stakeholder-based solution that is characterized by a strong science-based approach, student action, alignment between all relevant authorities and organizations, and the provision of life-saving therapeutic foods such as Plumpy’Nut and MixMe.

Prof. Dr Widjaja Lukito is one of Indonesia’s foremost nutrition experts and former Advisor to the Presidential Advisory Council on public health; together with the young nutritionists Cleo Indrayono and Temy Ramadan and through PA’s Representative Office in Tasikmalaya, Dr Widjaja began teaching at University Siliwangi (UNSIL) and University Muhammadiyah Tasikmalaya (UMTAS) to motivate a rapidly growing number of students equipped with a special app to assist families with malnourished children during eight consecutive weeks. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Rectors Rudi Priyadi of UNSIL and Ahmad Qonit of UMTAS and with the support of Bapak Asep Suryana, Ibu Nurlina, Ibu Nia Restiana, and Bapak Tatang Kusmana, the student associations saved or improved around 200 children’s lives in the past 12 months. The local motorcycle transport company KlikQuick continues to provide low fares allowing the students to reach even the furthest corners of Tasikmalaya. The student volunteers are setting an example not just of humanity, but also of a direct and simple way to overcome current gaps in Indonesia’s care for children.

Acknowledgments

PA hopes that this science-based, practical approach can serve as a model to be implemented throughout Indonesia. PA is proud to fund the project it initiated while recognizing the indispensable support of Ibu Nurhayati Effendi and Minister of BAPPENAS (Planning) H.E. Suharso Monoarfa, as well as Tasikmalaya Bupati Ade Sugianto and his team.

OTIFA volunteers on their way to screen a child

MixMe sachets are provided to moderately malnourished children