Dr. Nasaruddin Sheldon, Country Director of Indonesia contributed to this blog.
We are in Subang, Indonesia where Project HOPE is working with factories to reach thousands of women with health information and services through an innovative program HealthWorks, funded by MSD Merck for Mothers. We first visited the Hansol Hyun factory featured in the previous blog. Next, we visited the Daenong factory which employs 3000 women.
Like Hansol, this factory has many new initiatives for health education, screening and treatment in collaboration with the local health center, including anemia and TB for example. Like Hansol Hyun, they also have volunteer health educators among the workers who are trained to lead group discussions once a week for 30 minutes.
Another sign that the factory is integrating new health initiatives into their business practices is the new official policy for supporting breastfeeding, signed by the factory president. Bottle feeding with formula has become very common in Indonesia, and among factory workers it is more challenging to breastfeed since the workers are not with their children during the day.
I took the opportunity to talk with one of the mothers who has been successfully breastfeeding since returning to work about a year and a half ago. The factory provides a private space for expressing milk in the factory clinic, and a refrigerator to store the milk. She explained that although she breastfed exclusively since she came back to work, before Project HOPE's HealthWorks program, it was more difficult because she had no place to store her milk. There are currently about 28 women who use the lactation room.
We spoke with the with the clinic nurse who said that many women come to her for counseling about breastfeeding. They want to know how to produce enough breastmilk for their infants, and are worried that mother’s milk is not enough to meet all the dietary needs of their babies.
Breastfeeding is one of the keys to reducing stunting in childhood. Improving child nutrition is a national priority of the nation: over 33% of children in the nation who are stunted are at a disadvantage in terms of productivity and at higher risk for health problems such as diabetes later in life. The reduction of stunting prevalence is a new target that the Indonesian Government included in their five-year development plan (2014-2019). Project HOPE is committed to supporting the ability of women to provide the best start for their children through breastfeeding.
After visiting the factory, we met with Tommy Hidayat, Occupational Health Section of Purwadadi health center. He stated that since the HealthWorks implementation, the health center was able to effectively work with factories to implement health programs in the factories for the first time. Ms. Sri Suniawati, the Regional Midwives Coordinator of Subang District also told us that many women and families still need to be convinced that breast milk is all that is needed for the first six months. It’s difficult to convince them that mother’s milk is enough. Clearly, since there are family members who care for the baby while the mother works, reaching both women at the factories and their families will be an important need going forward. Partnership between the health centers and factories is an important step for bridging the gap between communities and workplaces. To quote Mrs Herawati, Compliance Manager of the Hansol Hyun factory, “together we elevate the power of caring for others.”
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