Recap: Day 4 of the PAIR Digital Summit 2020

Addressing public health and disability issues affecting youth in South Sulawesi within a COVID-19 context was held on 3 December 2020.


The final day of the AIC’s PAIR Summit 2020 focused on addressing public health and disability issues affecting youth in South Sulawesi within a COVID-19 context.

Professor Nurdin Abdullah, Governor of South Sulawesi, opened the final day of PAIR Summit 2020 and expressed his hopes for the program. “South Sulawesi contributed greatly to the national economic recovery. In this case, what we want to achieve is not only economic recovery, but quality economic recovery and growth. Therefore, we hope that the PAIR can take a role in creating solutions, especially in dealing with the impact of the COVID-19.”, said Professor Nurdin Abdullah in his opening remarks.

Policy Forum

Continuing it’s focus on young people and South Sulawesi from previous days of the Summit, this discussion turned its focus to young people, the health challenges they face and what strategies could be employed to overcome them. To contribute to this discussion, the AIC welcomed experts including members of PAIR’s Research Advisory Panel in a Policy Forum, to discuss issues of health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on youth in South Sulawesi. Dr. Elan Satriawan, Dr. Erna Witoelar, Professor Budu, and Dr Ishak Salim were among the distinguished speakers on the first session of the summit.

Individual and community health is of key importance in inclusive economic growth and development. South Sulawesi is the 9th largest economy in Indonesia and has a higher growth rate than the national average. Despite its high growth rate, South Sulawesi also has a relatively high number of people with disabilities which is likely to exacerbate poverty levels due to an unproductive workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to further add to their stress.

“People with disabilities were vulnerable even before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, their vulnerability has become more multi-layered,” said Ishak Salim, co-founder of PerDIK (Indonesian Diffabel Movement for Equality).

PAIR Research Coordinator, Dr Hasnawati Saleh, led the first session to discuss how South Sulawesi can overcome this problem given that  South Sulawesi also has a high rate of stunting  The panel heard that the interaction of these problems requires a careful solution between stakeholders across sectors.

“Stunting is a multi-sectoral problem. It’s not only a health issue, but also about parenting, environmental health, water and sanitation and access to healthy food,” said Elan Satriawan, the Chief of Policy Working Group of TNP2K.

Indonesia has put in effort to encourage cooperation between stakeholders to reduce poverty at the national levels by forming The National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty, (Tim Nasional Percepatan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan or TNP2K) which falls under the responsibility of the President of the Republic of Indonesia and is chaired by the Vice President. Apart from that, “the Governor of South Sulawesi has also made the stunting and malnutrition prevention program a top priority program”, said Professor Budu, a member of the Governor’s Team for the Acceleration of South Sulawesi Development.

Dr Erna Witoelar, the Former UN Special Ambassador for MDGs in the Asia Pacific, also expressed her hopes for multi-sector collaboration on this issue, “The government needs to work closely with other stakeholders, including universities and NGOs in these 3 aspects: design, beneficiary data, and optimal quality of implementation, to ensure that the program is effective.”

Research Forum

Moderated by Helen Brown, Head of Communications and Outreach at The Australia-Indonesia Centre the second panel was made up of AIC Senior Fellows, including Professor Anu Rammohan from University of Western Australia, Dr Sudirman Nasir from Universitas Hasanuddin, and Dr Christrijogo Sumartono from Universitas Airlangga, to discuss their findings to date and their plans for the next stage of their research in South Sulawesi.

Discussion shifted focus towards nutrition and health literacy. If this is not obtained in a child’s early years, it has been shown to affect them as young adults by causing greater risk diseases and other health problems.

Prof Anu Rammohan remarked “there is actually very little data available on dietary diversity at the household level and the challenges that households are facing”. Various strategies were discussed to overcome these challenges, including the introduction of programs such as the food voucher system, BPNT, aiming to diversity foods consumed while subsidising the purchases.

Additionally there is an aim to strengthen nutrition literacy as well, as Dr Sudirman Nasir outlined, “many of the root causes are related to individual and household level of literacy in managing nutrition and health, particularly at the village level.”

Handling the issue of malnutrition again requires multi-sector collaboration that does not only involve the government through social assistance programs, but also involves the community in efforts to increase health literacy at the household level that involves all family members.

“The key issue is how we [as researchers] could provide information to the government in an effort to improve the health of young people, especially women and people with disabilities as well as people with poor mental health throughout Sulawesi during the pandemic,” said Dr Christrijogo Sumartono.

“But, awareness of people must also be increased by educating young people and women in overcoming health problems.”

The insightful discussion that explored a number of avenues around the issue of health and youth and what is being done to improve that concluded with a question from the audience in regards to what methods and instruments are being employed to assess a household’s dietary needs in Indonesia. The PAIR research group that focuses on the issue of Young People, Health and Wellbeing, has completed their Pilot Project in South Sulawesi and will continue the next phase of research early next year.

The last day of the 2020 Summit also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between AIC and the South Sulawesi provincial government to strengthen cooperation between the two parties dan closed with remarks from the Deputy Head of Mission to Indonesia, Allaster Cox, who congratulated the AIC its PAIR initiative on the event.

For more on Day 4 of the Summit, click here.

Picture of Georgia Smith

AIYEP Intern
The Australia-Indonesia Centre