Tuesday, July 5, 2011


    Jakarta, July 5, 2011 (ANTARA) - Shy to breastfeed your child in public? It should not be, because it's a human right and legal in many countries.

         But, having nursing mothers' rooms in many public places will certainly be helpful for breastfeeding mothers and support the Child Friendly City/District Program.

           Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar recently inaugurated a nursing mothers' room at Tirtonadi bus terminal in Surakarta, Central Java Province.

          "This is the first nursing room located at a bus terminal. The nursing room construction is in line with the efforts to set up child friendly cities," the minister said.

         With a total population of 237,641,326 people in 2010, and with more than thirds or 85 million are children, the development of child friendly cities/districts in Indonesia is more complicated than in other countries, according to the minister.

           For Indonesia, the challenges included natural disasters which often happen in several regions, the minister said when officially opening the Second International Conference on Child Friendly Asia Pacific which was organized in Surakarta, June 30-July 2, 2011.

          Children and women are the most vulnerable in natural disasters, she said in the  conference which was attended by about 800 participants from 20 countries.

           Indonesia has different experiences from other countries in implementing the commitment to 'World Fit for Children' program.

         During 2010-2014, 75 districts/cities friendly to children have been set up. Indonesia needs at least 100 districts/cities fit for children, according to the minister.

          She said her ministry has adopted a policy to create or promote  child friendly conditions in cities and districts since 2006, to meet the rights of children to grow and be protected optimally so they can become quality human resources in the future.

         The policy was in line with Indonesia's commitment to the international Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the World Fit for Children (WFC),  the minister explained.

         To support the WFC program, Minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar is determined to make sure that every bus terminal in Indonesia to have a room for nursing mothers.

         "I really hope that in the near future all other regional governments in the country will follow Surakarta's example," the minister said in Surakarta on July 2, 2011.      
    "Comfortable nursing mother rooms must become part of the public services," the minister said when inaugurating Surakarta's nursing room which is equipped with an air conditioner, a freezer and a comfortable sofa.

        Breastfeeding is now being practiced by fewer and fewer mothers in Indonesia due to lack of public awareness about the importance of breastfeeding.

         Another factor is the fact that most offices and institutions do not provide nursing mothers' rooms to allow working women to breastfeed their babies.

         According to the 2010 data, only 15.3 percent of mothers breastfed their children exclusively (until the children are six months old).

         Breast feeding is crucial because every drop of mother's milk contains minerals and enzymes needed to prevent diseases or form anti-bodies that are more effective than those contained in powder milk.

       Some experts believe that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life could save 1.3 million infant lives every year worldwide.

        The Indonesian Government had estimated that some 30,000 young children could be saved if their mothers exclusively breastfed them for six months, then continued breastfeeding with supplemental foods until the age of two.

         Unfortunately, according to the Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey from 2002 and 2003, only 14 per cent of infants in Indonesia are exclusively breastfed for their first five months of life.
    In addition to strengthening the bond between mothers and their babies, breastfeeding offers significant health benefits for the child.

           Babies who are breastfed have lower rates of meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrhea illnesses, allergies and obesity.

         Moreover, breastfeeding offers significant health benefits to nursing mothers, including reduced risks of breast and other types of cancers, as well as osteoporosis, according to US-based Womenenews.com.

         The United Nations (UN) has announced that the World Breastfeeding Week theme for 2011 will focus on engaging and mobilizing youth inter-generational work with the catchy slogan of: "Talk to me! Breastfeeding - a 3D Experience".

         The theme  deals with communication at various levels and between various sectors, according to the UN News Center on its official website .
    World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

         To promote exclusive breastfeeding, UNICEF and the government have launched a campaign with Indonesia's First Lady Ani Bambang Yudhoyono playing a leading role.

         Indonesia has  a law that stipulates all babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.  Anyone who stands in the way of this law will be fined up to Ro100 million and sentenced to up to a year in prison.

          The low number of mothers breastfeeding exclusively their infants under the age of one year is partly to blame for the high infant mortality rate in the country.

         The infant mortality rate in Indonesia is the highest among the other ASEAN member countries.

         Official data show the country's infant mortality rate is now 35 per 1,000 live births, while 44 children under the age of five years die for every 1,000 live births.

          According to Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih, only 22 percent of mothers give exclusive breastfeeding to their newborns.

          Speaking on the sidelines of a function to launch strategy to achieve MDGs in Bandung, West Java, last year, Minister Endang said exclusive breastfeeding campaign was vital to curb the mortality rate of infants under the age of five years, which is one of the targets in the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

         Data from the Health Ministry show breastfeeding can lower the mortality rate of newborns by up to 17 percent and children under the age of five years by up to 12 percent. ***4***

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