It is everyone’s wish to lead a healthy life regardless of his or her social status. But in reality, many children from poor families living in either rural or urban areas lack the necessary nutrition.
Prices of healthy products such as milk, vitamins and food supplements have gone up over the past several years, leaving healthy products unaffordable for poor families. Consequently, many children from poor families are unable to consume healthy products that are very much needed for their growth. Lack of nutrition can also leave children vulnerable to various diseases. If this situation continues, then many people, especially children, will be unable to lead a healthy life.
Aware of the problem facing children of poor families, several dairy product companies, such as Frisian Flag Indonesia, Ultra Jaya and Nestle Indonesia, run a series of programs to improve access to nutrition and health knowledge in communities.
The programs they run under corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes focus on preventive health care as, indisputably, prevention is better than cure. “Being sick can lead anyone to spend a great amount on medical treatment,” said Frisian Flag Indonesia president director Cees Ruygrok.
The producer of Susu Bendera brand, Frisian Flag Indonesia recently launched a health-related campaign by deploying hundreds of nutritional advisors in 85 places across 30 cities on both Java and Sumatra islands to disseminate information on nutrition.
The campaign, called nutri bus, was conducted from July to September this year to commemorate Frisian Flag’s 85th anniversary.
This free program was meant to boost health awareness among both adults and children. “We really hope people will become aware of the importance of being healthy as a means of prevention. Better nutrition is a good investment to prevent them from catching diseases, which can cost them even more in medical treatment,” Ruygrok added.
Establishing better health awareness, however, is easier said than done since many people living in either rural or urban areas lack access to information on health-related issues. Not to mention the fact that poor nutritional values in this nation has the potential to lead people to poor health.
Despite poor nutritional values, Indonesia is experiencing rapid economic development that demands its people to work harder to improve their lives and ensure a future for their families.
In order to meet the daily challenges, people need to have healthy bodies and minds. Good nutrition provides a strong foundation for a healthy life, Ruygrok added.
Speaking of good nutrition, one wonders what measures should be taken to determine whether a nutritious product is worth consuming.
“There are a lot of supplements on the market today and perhaps customers need to understand both the composition and nutritional contents of each product before use,” Surendran Menon of Ultra Jaya said.
Besides manufacturing beverages like fruit juice (Buavita), jasmine tea and fruit flavored tea, the company is proud of its high quality fresh milk.
“Milk is very rich in both calcium and nutrition and has the potential, for children in particular, to make bones grow faster and stronger. We have over the last few years run an intensive campaign in a number of integrated health services posts (Posyandu) to educate the public on the benefits of drinking milk. Drinking milk should become a habit for both children and adults,” Menon said.
Many children are inclined to stop drinking milk regularly when they grow older, he said. “Therefore, we are running a campaign in 18 urban areas to encourage milk consumption,” said Leilani Lestarina, the head of medical and nutrition services at Nestle Indonesia.
Nestle Indonesia, a well-known dairy product manufacturer, has organized a series of health seminars and discussion programs, conducted in either shopping malls or other indoor buildings, to improve nutritional awareness among adults and children nationwide, Lestarina said further.
Popular topics discussed include “How to increase both knowledge and awareness of the danger of diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure” and “what preventive measures should be taken — like engaging in regular exercise and eating healthy diets”.
Nevertheless, staying healthy does not merely depend on healthy food and exercise. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is an old saying that people in this country acknowledge, but many have yet to apply the concept in leading a healthy life. As a consequence, several areas in Indonesia are prone to diseases such as dengue fever. In fact, dengue has become an epidemic in Jakarta and other regions in the archipelago. Despite its danger, this disease can be prevented by keeping the environment clean.
There is nothing more effective than cleaning up the surroundings as a way of limiting the mosquitoes’ ability to breed, and of course this can limit the spread of the disease itself.
To assist the community in Cupa, Tangerang, in preventing dengue, Nestle Indonesia once conducted an information campaign on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
“And since children are the most vulnerable to the disease, we have worked with a number of primary schools in Tangerang to promote hygiene and sanitation so the children get used to living a clean and healthy life,” Hardjosubroto added.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Jakarta Post, November 21, 2007.