Country of Operation
- Mercy CorpsNot-for-profit
Target income level
- Bottom 20%
SummaryThe Healthy Start Project aims to develop a model of sustainable and effective breastfeeding protection and promotion that is replicable throughout Indonesia. The Healthy Start Project covers 6 districts of North Jakarta Municipality and one district in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
Scientific research from around the world suggests that initiation of breastfeeding within one hour after birth could prevent 22% of newborn deaths (Pediatrics, 2006) and that exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months alone could prevent 13% of all deaths among children under five years of age (The Lancet, 2003). In 2006, only 40% of babies under the age of six months in Indonesia were exclusively breastfed. Successive development projects in Indonesia have addressed breastfeeding, but usually as part of a broader nutrition program and their efforts have failed to achieve a sustainable reversal of the declining rate of breastfeeding.
Key program components
The program focuses on: 1) improving knowledge, skills, and practices regarding early and exclusive breastfeeding among health care providers, households and communities and 2) strengthening policies that support and protect early and exclusive breastfeeding practices. The project is active on three levels. At the health care provider level, Mercy Corps facilitates breastfeeding management and counseling trainings for midwives, as well as capacity building of government partners to implement sustainable breastfeeding protection and promotion programs. At the household and community level, Mercy Corps facilitates the creation of community-sustained mother support groups where clusters of pregnant and nursing women gather to discuss breastfeeding and mutually support one another. At the policy level, Mercy Corps works closely with the government partners, and with international agencies to develop and communicate policies that support breastfeeding, including breastfeeding policies in health care facilities and firmer regulations regarding breast milk substitute marketing.