[FKP at SMERU] Barriers to Optimal Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices in Indonesia: What Leaders Say

FKP 2016 10 19 Alifia Barriers to optimal exclusive breastfeeding in IndonesiaReported by Mochammad Rizcky Pramonanda

The third FKP seminar in 2016 hosted by the SMERU Research Institute (SMERU) was held on 19 October 2016 in Jakarta. Ulfah Alifia (SMERU) presented SMERU’s study on barriers to political and public support for exclusive breastfeeding practices in Indonesia. The study employs a qualitative method in which the data were collected through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with government institutions, national and international NGOs, health workers, employer and labor union, breast milk substitute companies, as well as mass media in West Indonesia area from August to September 2015.

The findings of the barriers to optimal exclusive breastfeeding practices in Indonesia are grouped into three main categories. The first one is the ideas category that includes misconceptions about breast milk, the lack of support from family and community members, psychological condition of mothers, and the lack of health workers’ awareness and knowledge affecting the success of exclusive breastfeeding. In addition, there is also a lack of support from workplace as they have limited room/space for lactation rooms, lack of employers’ ideas and awareness, lack of breastfeeding breaks, and have limited resources to monitor changes in regulations.

The second category is interests, where partnerships between NGOs and formula companies is prone to conflicts of interest. Health workers are also often involved in the selling of formula products, workplaces prioritize productivity over welfare, the media has a very limited focus on health issues, and there are different levels of interests among government bodies in setting the improvement of exclusive breastfeeding practices as their priority that lead to weak policy implementation. Lastly, institutions also contribute to the barriers due to the absence of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) indicators in the health sector minimum service standard, incomplete legislation, the involvement of private sector organizations with conflicting interests, and informal norms in the community.

Based on these findings, it can be concluded that barriers to optimal exclusive breastfeeding practices in Indonesia are attributed to different factors. The three main policy recommendations to help minimize these barriers include improving IYCF information dissemination and education, exercising more control over the behaviors of various stakeholders, and accelerating policy implementation to promote exclusive breastfeeding.

Presentation file 2016 10 19 Alifia Barriers to Optimal Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices in Indonesia: What Leaders Say