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Celebrating the Indonesia’s National Health Day with the investment of nutrition education at early age

The high prevalence of under and overnutrition problems that are further recognized as the triple burden of diseases in the recent Global Nutrition Report 2017 is the manifestations of the increasing unhealthy behaviors which include the long-standing habit of low-quality diet.  The latest Basic Health Research (RISKESDAS) data in 2018 show that vegetable consumption is not improving as compared to the situation in 2013 where more than 90% of Indonesians over the age of 10 years consumed vegetables less than recommended. The Community Movement for Healthy Life (Gerakan Masyarakat Hidup Sehat - Germas) which has incorporated massive campaigns on vegetable and fruit consumption since 2017 should be more encouraged to affect all levels of the society.

In line with the celebration of the 54th National Health Day this year, the Government of Indonesia through the Ministry of Health initiated a series of activities with the theme "Aku cinta sehat: Ayo hidup sehat, mulai dari kita", which translates as I love to be healthy, let’s have a healthy life, starting from ourselves.  This theme emphasizes the importance of raising awareness to the public about healthy lifestyle including maintaining a balanced diet and routine physical activities.

In this occasion, SEAMEO RECFON received a visit from young visitors from TK Persiapan of Duren Sawit Jakarta on November 14th, 2018. They are kindergarten school children aged around 4-6 years.  This short visit embraced nutrition education sessions through playing, singing and dancing that conveyed a message on a balanced diet.  After an introduction of healthy and nutritious foods, the program is followed by a gardening activity.  Some parents who also attended the visit felt grateful since the program involved some useful and practical activities, not only for the children to understand the practice of balanced diet from an early age, but also for parents as food providers at home. The activity of planting various vegetable seeds was regarded as very exciting by the children. They also looked proud when they brought home the planted seed as a souvenir from this activity. The school principal also emphasized that utilizing the curiosity sense of this young children to introduce the concept of balanced nutrition at early age was one effective method of learning.

Investment in nutrition education targeted to early age group is one of the priorities at SEAMEO RECFON.  This initiative will be further enhanced with the collaboration among SEAMEO RECFON, HIMPAUDI and the Directorate of Early Childhood and Community Education Ministry of Education RI.  Recently, SEAMEO RECFON and HIMPAUDI started a national assessment called Uji Kompentensi Gizi (UKG) on October 18th, 2018 (10.18.18) among early childhood teachers specifically on nutrition competency.  The result of this assessment will be teacher’s competency mapping for further program design such as capacity building to enhance teachers’ competency in delivering health and nutrition messages effectively to the children and their parents.