11/02/2004, 00.00
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Malnutrition kills 26 children

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Malnutrition killed 26 children in one month in Indonesia's Central Java province. According to the local Health Bureau's September 2004 report the deaths were caused by precarious economic conditions in which poor families find themselves. They are so poor that they cannot adequately feed their children.

The 1997 monetary crisis that struck Indonesia left many unable to adequately support themselves. Since then, malnutrition has been become the lot of poor families living in rural areas across the province," Agus Sartono, Central Java's Health Bureau Chief, said. "Things got worse last September when our office received information about at least 26 children dying of malnutrition". Worst still, poor nutrition has led to widespread hydrocephalus (abnormally high amounts of fluid in the skull) and heart disease in the malnourished.

In a report by the Semarang Health Bureau, there were 2,788 malnourished children in the province in 1997 representing 0.52 per cent of the total. This rose to 1.86 per cent in 1998-1999 dropping to 1.31 per cent last year.

"Up to the present," Agus Sartono stressed, "we have taken care of 4,394 children with malnutrition across the province. But parents are too often forced to bring their children home because they cannot pay for the health treatment."

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