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“Prepare an Umbrella Before It Rains”

“Prepare an Umbrella Before It Rains”

Key takeaways from our meeting with Rina:

  • Stunting is a long battle that can be prevented. The greatest challenge is emphasising the danger of stunting, as it isn’t always physically visible. This makes it difficult to illustrate and describe not only what it is, but also its severity.
  • The role of community health workers (CHWs) is critical! Many CHWs have a positive perception of their profession, with some being highly influential in their communities. Their engagement and influence are essential in the fight against stunting.
  • The importance of door-to-door visits is that personal interactions with families are crucial for tackling stunting. These visits need to be frequent and intensive. Building trust and relationships takes time, and a single visit is not enough. Consistent engagement is necessary to ensure that messages about child health are heard and implemented. The process of behaviour change is gradual and requires persistent effort.

On a bright, sunny day, we arrived at Puskesmas Labuan Bajo for a documentary filming. We were greeted by Rina, the Nutritionist of Puskesmas Labuan Bajo, who has been serving this Puskesmas since 2012. With 12 years of experience, she knows the intricacies of public health and nutrition in the area. She is essentially the Beyoncé of child growth and nutrition, excelling in growth monitoring, community health worker empowerment, vitamin A and deworming distribution, and home visits, you name it.

My first impression of her was a warm, motherly, yet highly qualified individual, deeply dedicated to serving her community. I can say she is one of the heroes who contribute to the success of 1000 Days Fund programmes in Manggarai Barat for the last couple of years. It’s her passion and dedication that I admire most! It was a valuable experience to spend some time talking with her about her work and her perspectives as a health worker.

During our conversation, we delved into the complexity of stunting in the area. We identified several factors that require significant attention: parenting, breastfeeding, personal hygiene and sanitation, financial literacy, smoking cessation, and other elements affecting child health like vitamin A and deworming distribution, as well as immunisation. When I asked about the correlation between vitamin A and deworming distribution, she explained that while some mothers are proactive in requesting these services, it doesn’t guarantee they will take their children to the posyandu (community health post). Therefore, she emphasised the importance of door-to-door visits to ensure these children receive the necessary interventions.

“Stunting is like seeing an iceberg.” – Rina, Nutritionist of Puskesmas Labuan Bajo

Stunting, a form of chronic malnutrition in children, is often compared to an iceberg due to its complex and multifaceted nature. This analogy highlights that the visible signs of stunting are just a small part of a much larger, more complex problem with hidden consequences and underlying causes that require comprehensive and multi-faceted solutions.

Bu Rina reiterated the phrase, “Prepare an umbrella before it rains,” underscoring her belief in the importance of prevention in combating stunting. Since stunting is irreversible, focusing on preventive measures is crucial. Stunting is all about prevention!

Rina (centre) with our Manggarai Barat Quality Assurance Coordinators, Tio and Ivani

In conclusion, our time with Bu Rina highlighted the multifaceted approach needed to address stunting. From direct health interventions to preventive measures and community engagement, every aspect plays a role in combating this hidden yet pervasive issue. Bu Rina’s dedication and holistic approach are inspiring, emphasising that stunting prevention is an ongoing and collective effort. 

This commitment is why we aim to collaborate and support health workers like Bu Rina, who dedicate themselves to ensuring the success of health programmes. Our collaboration extends to committed village governments, health workers, and community health workers. We believe that involving and actively engaging multiple stakeholders is crucial in effectively tackling stunting in their areas. By working together, we can create a comprehensive and hands-on approach to addressing this significant public health challenge.

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