Forum: Concerted effort needed to mitigate stunting

The article "Indonesia grapples with resurgence of stunting among kids (Jan 19)" struck a chord with my colleagues and me at Tanoto Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that is active in stunting mitigation and early childhood education and development (ECED) in a few countries, particularly Indonesia.

We share the concerns over the disruptive impact posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and are grateful that The Straits Times published this article to raise awareness of the issue.

Stunting is largely irreversible, so prevention is the only way to effectively address it. Stunting leads to weakened immune systems and higher risk of impaired cognitive and learning abilities. It makes it difficult for one to exit the poverty cycle.

In spite of the pandemic, stunting in Indonesia is being addressed systematically, consistently and urgently.

Collective urgency through public-private partnerships will be critical in the fight against stunting, and collaboration has yielded many opportunities to optimise and scale this fight.

Last year, Tanoto Foundation worked with the Indonesian government and the United Nations Children's Fund to develop and implement the Early Childhood Development Index, which gives the nation a robust methodology to help steer and scale ECED interventions.

We recently trained facilitators to recognise stunting indicators and help households become more aware of nutritional, psychosocial and antenatal interventions.

In stunting mitigation, we have to play the long game yet remain grounded in the daily challenges faced by the communities. In every challenge we face, there are opportunities presented.

Stunting mitigation requires a concerted effort, so we welcome like-minded collaborators to join us in the fight against stunting.

Lawrence Teh

Country Head, Tanoto Foundation Singapore

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