Child health in Indonesia gets a hand

Childhood diet and nutrition in Indonesia is taking a turn for the better in the wake of a Flinders University research project.

The project brings Flinders University’s leadership in nutrition and dietetics education into sharp focus during the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition (APCCN) being held in Adelaide from November 26-29.

Conference presentations and posters are being made by Indonesian health professionals who were hosted by staff and students in Flinders University Nutrition and Dietetics earlier this year as part of an Australia Awards Fellowship for professional development funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Flinders University Nutrition and Dietetics senior lecturer Dr Jacqueline Miller says this fellowship has provided successful outcomes to help combat infant and child malnutrition in the Yogyakarta region of Java, where an estimated 25% of students miss breakfast, schools fail to enforce healthy eating guidelines, and there has been poor enforcement of government regulations about supplementary feeding.

The effect of new programs developed by Australia Awards Fellowship recipients was reinforced in April, when Flinders lecturers Dr Kacie Dickinson and Ms Louisa Matwiejczyk, with three SA Health dietitians, went to Jogyakarta and provided follow-up support to help implement the new feeding and nutrition programs.

“A key to the success of the fellowship was our partnership with dietetic faculty from the University of Gadja Mada (UGM) to support them with dietetic training and therefore investing in the future workforce,” says Dr Miller, who will present a paper at the conference about how building the nutrition workforce in Yogyakarta is improving health outcomes.

Flinders has helped Indonesian health workers to implement five community or hospital-based projects.

They include new strategies for breastfeeding support in village community health centres; developing nutrition education programs at 30 elementary schools in Jogjakarta; developing a paediatric menu and new in-house food service system at UGM Hospital; establishing a new oncology outpatient service at Dr Sarjito Hospital; and a strategy to protect school children from the high incidence of food poisoning associated with unregulated food vendors selling snacks containing dangerous chemicals.

The conference presentations of Dr Miller and several AAF recipients will be supported by Flinders Nutrition and Dietetics lecturer Ms Matwiejczyk’s presentations on promoting recommended baby feeding practices and embedding nutrition education into elementary school programs in Jogjakarta.

These outcomes target significant nutrition problems that connect with the APCCN conference theme of Nutrition Solutions for a Changing World – along with many other key pieces of local research being presented by Flinders experts focused on issues of improving nutritional care and diets for people in aged care accommodation, and ways to combat childhood obesity.

There will be further opportunities next year for Flinders University Nutrition and Dietetics students to spend time in Indonesia on projects under the Colombo Mobility Plan.

Australia Awards Fellowships are funded by the Australian Government and designed to strengthen partnerships between Australian organisations and developing countries by providing professionals and emerging leaders with short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in Australia.

For more details about the conference, visit the website


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