Over-The-Counter (OTC) Drugs, Accessible yet Abused

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Do you recognize the show Euphoria? It is quite a popular series in which the main character is a drug-addict teenager. It’s scary, honestly, how teenagers’ exposure to drug abuse—be it at home, school, or from their own curiosity—can lead to this condition. That’s why this article will talk about this problem, especially during the commemoration of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or also known as World Drug Day, today. World Drug Day is marked on June 26 every year, with the purpose of strengthening the action and cooperation in achieving a world without drug abuse. Individuals, communities, and organizations all over the world are encouraged to take part in raising awareness about drug problems in society. We can contribute by sharing verified facts about drugs, such as the health risks, preventions, and solutions. Today, Project Child Indonesia wants to talk about a common drug problem among teenagers, which is over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse.

What is OTC drug abuse?

Over-the-counter drugs refer to medicines you can buy at a store without a prescription. This might sound harmless, considering that people need generic medicines for common illnesses like flu, cough, or fever. OTC drugs are safe and effective when used accordingly as directed, but they often get misused by taking higher or frequent doses than necessary. This is a form of OTC drug abuse, which is when OTC drugs get used outside of what is medically recommended. OTC drugs often get abused because they are easy to get, inexpensive, legal, and free from age requirements or limits per purchase. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 3 million people aged 12 to 25 used OTC cough and cold medicines to get high (Nova Recovery Center, n.d). 

Cough and cold medicines are some of the most common OTC drugs to get abused. The reason is that cough medicines contain an active ingredient called dextromethorphan (DXM), which can make people high and create hallucinations when taken in high doses. Similarly, cold medicines contain an active ingredient named pseudoephedrine, which creates hallucinations and stimulant effects when abused. Other active ingredients in OTC drugs that are often abused to get high are loperamide in anti-diarrhea medicine and dimenhydrinate in motion sickness pills.

Taking a medicine outside of its appropriate dose and purpose will of course affect your body. Think about it as using some tools against its purpose. For example, if you use a knife to eat an apple because you are too lazy to grab a fork, the knife has a huge potential in cutting your mouth or tongue even when you’re being careful with it. Similarly, people who use OTC drugs for their personal favors are harming themselves. Some negative side effects are slurred speech and impaired motor and cognitive skills. Furthermore, long-term abuse can lead to more chronic conditions like memory loss, heart problems, kidney and liver damage, internal stomach bleeding, increased risk for stroke and high blood pressure, addiction, and death.

Yes, you read it right. OTC drug abuse can potentially lead to addiction—for certain OTC drugs, at least. Drugs that contain DXM and loperamide can lead to dependency and addiction. Similar to other addictions, OTC drug addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using the drug despite its negative effects on the person. Therefore, it is never a right choice to abuse or even consider abusing OTC drugs. But, what if we know someone who’s been abusing OTC drugs? What do we do to help? First, let’s familiarize ourselves with the signs of OTC drug abuse.

Many signs of OTC drug abuse are similar to the signs of using illegal drugs, which mainly involve physical and behavioral changes. Physical changes include overeating or undereating, gaining or losing much weight, sleeping too much or too little, and other changes that have been mentioned as the negative side effects. On the other hand, behavioral changes involve losing interest in socializing, poor performance at school or work, and irritability such as anger outbursts or blaming others. If someone you suspect of abusing OTC drugs is a family member or someone you live with, you can start paying attention to how they’ve been taking the drugs. These people may be taking more than the recommended dosage, continuing to take it once the health issue has resolved, or mixing it with alcohol or other OTC drugs carelessly. You may also notice that the scent of medicine is lingering on that person, as well as their personal space and belongings, such as their room and clothes. 

How do we help?

Like common drug addiction, OTC drug abuse and addiction need to be taken care of by professionals. The first step is to detox OTC drugs from the body, followed by rehab or therapy. OTC drug detox refers to medical management that prevents drug withdrawal symptoms and eliminates the physical dependency on the drugs. People who are addicted or have been abusing OTC drugs tend to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as mood swings, anxiety, distress, irritability, and disorientation when they stop using the drugs. A medical detox program may not always be needed for OTC drug withdrawal, but medical monitoring is helpful in ensuring the comfort of the person because they provide clinical support for psychological symptoms.

Next, rehab is needed to solve the underlying causes of the abuse. As you may know, some people tend to look for an instant fix for their personal problems, be it family problems, anxiety, depression, and so forth. This is when rehab takes place to provide behavioral therapy, support groups for recovery, and educational lectures. Therefore, what we can do to help is refer the person to certain recovery programs. Recovering indeed takes a lot of courage; it is not as simple as flushing drugs down the toilet. That’s why people who have been abusing drugs need all the support from their closest ones. Let’s not turn our attention away to ensure that our environment is free from drug abuse. 

References

Nova Recovery Center. (n.d). Over the Counter Drug Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment. Retrieved from: https://novarecoverycenter.com/drugs/over-the-counter-drugs/#h-what-are-the-side-effects-of-otc-drug-abuse 

UAB Medicine News. (n.d). How to Spot Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse in Family Members. Retrieved from: https://www.uabmedicine.org/-/how-to-spot-over-the-counter-drug-abuse-in-family-members 

UNODC. (n.d). International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Retrieved from: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drugs/index-new.html 

Mindfulness Training: the Mind, the Body, and Breathing in Between

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Would you agree if I say human emotions are hard to be figured out? Ever since we are young, we are rarely given lessons about our emotional well-being. Sure, schools commonly provide “counsellors” who can help when students are in trouble (or when they are the trouble). But what about those who seem perfectly fine? Do they not need lessons about human emotions that are yet to come? No wonder why we have such little understanding about our own emotions: nobody has ever taught us about them.

This lack of understanding about emotional well-being resulted in an increased stress level without knowing how to deal with it. When this keeps going on without help, our lives become an emotional rollercoaster as we experience such unstable emotions. This shouldn’t be the case. We have to create a solution where people can manage their emotions in much, much better ways. 

That’s why Project Child Indonesia conducted mindfulness training for our volunteers. Mindfulness is “the practice of becoming fully aware of the present moment rather than dwelling in the past or projecting into the future” (Scott, 2020). This mindfulness training is one of the mandatory trainings for volunteers of the Online Learning Assistance Program supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Alumni Grant Scheme and administered by Australia Awards in Indonesia. Not only to stimulate volunteers’ emotional intelligence and positive well-being, but this training also provides a space where they can gather and engage in mindful activities together. As they will be the facilitators for our newborn Mindfulness Program, we arranged this training so that they will be more knowledgeable and equipped to act as mindful facilitators. Improving their mental awareness and positive well-being will not only be beneficial for them as individuals, but also for children in Yogyakarta who will participate in lessons and activities carried by them. 

Mindful breathing is key

In the training, we mostly focused on mindful breathing as the key to managing emotions. Our training took place at a very peaceful setting in Bantul, Yogyakarta; being close to nature is a great kick-off for achieving mindfulness. Rolling my mat out on the ground, I could feel the grass tickling beneath me as I sat down. The air was as clear and fresh as ever. My view was rice fields looking bright green. It was such a peaceful space to breathe in, to begin with.

We practiced several breathing techniques to be mindful. The first one is one-sided breathing. One side of our nostrils is intentionally closed so that we are breathing only from one way: left or right. After a few rounds of one-sided breathing, we worked on an alternate breathing technique; we took a breath through the left and breathed out through the right, and vice versa. We worked with our hands and fingers to help with the alternation, as you can see from the picture above. If you notice two fingers are placed at the centre of the forehead, that’s because it is where our third eye chakra takes place. The third eye is commonly known as the gate towards our inner, higher consciousness. Thus, these breathing techniques do not only bring us to work on our breathing, but also to connect with our higher consciousness. 

The participants then gathered around in groups for a reflection. How do we feel after working on our breathing? Do we feel something different in our bodies? Were there any thoughts going on when we focused on breathing? Do we notice any changes at all? The answers vary depending on the individuals. Even for those who didn’t notice anything different at all, they still learned something by listening to how others were feeling (more peaceful, for example). We were given the chance to understand our own and other people’s minds and bodies during this reflection session.

The next breathing technique we worked on was belly breathing. Would you believe it if I say belly breathing is actually hard? I’d never know until the day I tried it myself. 

This technique comes from our common bad habit of breathing, which is shallow breathing. Do you notice that when you are stressed or anxious, you tend to breathe so uncontrollably fast? In other words, you are breathing shallowly through the chest without even reaching the diaphragm. Humans’ normal way of breathing is to reach the diaphragm until it is expanded. However, with shallow breathing, our diaphragm becomes stiff from the lack of movement that it’s supposed to get through our breathing. Thus, in this technique, we had to push the air we inhaled to the belly. We had to make sure our belly expands as we inhale and deflate as we exhale. If our belly does not move at all, that means we are still breathing directly to the lungs without working the diaphragm. 

How does breathing make you mindful?

This is the question that I asked myself at the end of our training. Before we finished the training, we were given one minute of silence to reflect as individuals. We were alone with our mind, body, and breath, grounded in the nature surrounding us. Being able to finally breathe mindfully has given me a whole new perspective on this self-reflection. I realized that I had never breathed mindfully—not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know how. 

I have always realised that it’s difficult for me to breathe when I’m anxious. My mind was loud, my heartbeat racing, and my breathing shallow. Yet I couldn’t slow down any of them. Having practised mindful breathing allowed me to at least sort out one of those problems: difficulty breathing. Now, every time I get anxious, I keep remembering to inhale until my belly expands. Working on this helps me slow down my breathing, and then my heartbeat, and eventually my thoughts. Oftentimes, the key to processing your own emotions is as simple as breathing, mindfully. 

Feeling like you might burst out of anger? Breathe. Extremely disappointed at someone or something? Breathe. Feeling excited, happy, and energized? Still, don’t forget to breathe. Breathing lets you be present in the moment. Not in the past or in the future. We might get angry, disappointed, or remorseful over the past and worry or excited over the future. But we cannot forget that we have to be present for the moment. For our mind, our body, our present moments, and everyone else around us. When we start to become mindful of our well-being, we’ll become mindful of other people too. Just like Project Child Indonesia’s volunteer, who will share this mindfulness knowledge and practices with children in Yogyakarta.

References 

Scott, E. (2020, June 11). What Is Mindfulness?. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-the-health-and-stress-relief-benefits-3145189 

Meninggal Karena Begadang, Kok Bisa?

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Sudah banyak berita tentang orang meninggal karena begadang. Salah satu berita yang pernah viral adalah kejadian mahasiswa yang meninggal setelah tujuh hari tidak tidur untuk mengerjakan skripsi. Sebelum meninggal dunia, ia sempat bercerita tentang pengalamannya bolak-balik ke rumah sakit pasca begadang tujuh hari itu. Kesehatannya terus-terusan menurun; ia mengalami gejala demam tinggi, tidak nafsu makan, dan lemas. Dokter pun bingung menduga sumber penyakitnya, mulai dari tipes, penyakit ginjal, TBC, sampai ke penyakit jantung. Nggak lama setelah cerita tersebut tersebar di Twitter, ia meninggal dunia, berdasarkan kabar dari akun Twitter kakaknya. 

Pada tahun 2013, ada juga berita tentang seorang copywriter yang meninggal setelah bekerja selama 30 jam tanpa istirahat. Ia kolaps di sebuah tempat makan dan langsung dilarikan ke rumah sakit, namun ia tidak terselamatkan setelah berada di kondisi koma. Kasus ini tidak hanya terjadi ke mahasiswa dan pekerja, tapi juga seorang remaja yang hobi main game di Thailand. Remaja umur 18 tahun ini sering banget main game sampai larut malam, sampai akhirnya ia ditemukan meninggal di kamarnya sendiri dengan dugaan gagal jantung.

Begadang menyebabkan gagal jantung?

Berdasarkan penelitian, orang yang tidur kurang dari 5 jam berisiko terkena serangan jantung maupun stroke (Ramadhan, 2016). Ramadhan (2016) menjelaskan, ada tiga alasan di balik risiko ini. Pertama, kekurangan tidur menyebabkan ketidakseimbangan hormon ghrelin dan leptin, yaitu hormon yang mengatur pola makan. Saat begadang, orang biasanya selalu ingin makan karena ketidakseimbangan hormon ini, yang akhirnya mengarah ke obesitas. Obesitas dapat menyebabkan tekanan darah tinggi (hipertensi), yang bisa memicu penyakit kardiovaskular seperti serangan jantung dan stroke.

Kedua, kurang tidur bisa membuat penumpukan kalsium di pembuluh darah. Penumpukan ini membentuk plak di dinding pembuluh darah, yang sewaktu-waktu bisa lepas dan menyebabkan penyumbatan pembuluh darah. Penyumbatan ini adalah penyebab lain dari serangan jantung dan stroke. Terakhir, orang yang begadang cenderung merasa lebih stres dan emosional, yang mana mempercepat detak jantung karena kerja dari saraf simpatik. Kalau terus-terusan begini, jantung bisa membengkak atau bahkan gagal berfungsi. Penyakit kardiovaskular seperti inilah yang menjadi sorotan utama penyebab kematian dini karena begadang. Studi di Inggris menemukan bahwa kurang tidur melipatgandakan risiko kematian karena penyakit kardiovaskular (Adhi, 2020). 

Selain itu, minuman berkafein seperti kopi dan minuman berenergi umum dijadikan teman begadang karena efeknya yang bikin kita melek semalaman. Tapi, efek samping lain yang sering diabaikan adalah efeknya ke jantung. Kafein membuat jantung berdebar-debar dan membuat tekanan darah tinggi. Lagi-lagi, jantung kita yang jadi korban dari begadang. Tidak hanya jantung, begadang juga menyebabkan banyak masalah kesehatan lain, seperti diabetes, gangguan pencernaan, gangguan pernapasan, gangguan psikologis (seperti gangguan kecemasan, depresi, paranoia), dan gangguan neurologis (seperti susah konsentrasi dan memproses informasi). Berbagai masalah ini timbul dari kegiatan buruk lain yang dilakukan sambil begadang, seperti ngemil makanan tidak sehat, merokok, dan minum alkohol. 

Yuk kurangi begadang!

Begadang sepertinya sudah dinormalisasi di kehidupan zaman sekarang. Tidak jarang jam kerja orang menjadi berantakan semenjak diberlakukan Work From Home dan kuliah online. Bangun pagi untuk bergabung meeting online, lalu ditinggal tidur dan ujung-ujungnya bekerja pada saat malam hari. Kebiasaan ini membuat orang bekerja atau nugas sampai larut malam, bahkan dini hari. Padahal, mereka harus bangun pagi lagi untuk melakukan kegiatan yang sama.

Yuk mulai kurangi kebiasaan tersebut. Cobalah bekerja di jam kerja normal, yaitu sekitar jam 08.00-17.00 atau 09.00-18.00. Untuk kamu yang masih sekolah dan kuliah, mungkin mengikuti jam kerja normal akan lebih sulit karena kamu memiliki tugas dan kegiatan organisasi yang harus dilakukan di luar jam belajar formal. Tapi, kamu tetap harus mengatur batasan antara jam kerja itu dengan jam istirahatmu. Misalnya, kamu kuliah di jam 10.00-16.00, lalu aturlah jam lain untuk mengerjakan tugas dan kegiatan lainnya, seperti di jam 19.00-22.00. Penting juga untuk menyisihkan akhir pekanmu untuk benar-benar bebas dari pekerjaan karena bukankah itu arti dari akhir pekan?

Batasan jam dan hari kerja tersebut dibuat agar kamu punya waktu istirahat yang bisa digunakan dengan sebaik-baiknya. Misalnya, dengan berhenti bekerja di jam 18.00, kamu bisa menggunakan seluruh sisa malam untuk menonton Netflix, hangout bersama teman, atau sekadar rebahan di kamar. Kamu pun bisa langsung tidur pada jam yang reasonable atau tepat di saat kamu mengantuk tanpa dihantui beban pekerjaan. Jangan lupa juga untuk mendapatkan waktu tidur yang cukup, yaitu sekitar 7-9 jam per hari untuk orang dewasa dan 8-10 jam per hari untuk remaja (Halodoc, 2018). 

Maka dari itu, mulailah kurangi begadang demi kesehatan. Walaupun efek buruknya tidak langsung terasa untuk sebagian orang, kamu tanpa sadar sudah menabung masalah-masalah kecil yang bisa berujung fatal. Kalau kamu begadang karena tuntutan pekerjaan, coba sekeras mungkin untuk konsisten dengan jam kerja yang ada. Kamu bahkan bisa membicarakannya dengan atasan maupun kolegamu untuk meluruskan kondisi tersebut. Ingat, kamu bukan robot. Tubuhmu sangat membutuhkan istirahat yang cukup untuk bisa berfungsi dengan normal dan maksimal.

Ingatkan juga orang-orang terdekatmu untuk tidak melakukan kesalahan ini. Kamu mungkin kenal anggota keluarga, teman, atau teman kerja yang suka begadang. Ajaklah mereka untuk sebisa mungkin menghindari kebiasaan tersebut, apa pun alasannya. Kita harus sama-sama memahami bahwa segala hal yang berlebihan itu tidak baik, termasuk melakukan suatu kegiatan sampai larut malam.

Referensi

Adhi, I. S. (2020, December 29). 10 Dampak Buruk Kurang Tidur yang Perlu Diwaspadai. Kompas.com. Retrieved from: https://health.kompas.com/read/2020/12/29/200700768/10-dampak-buruk-kurang-tidur-yang-perlu-diwaspadai?page=all 

Halodoc. (2018, May 23). Berapa Jam Waktu Tidur yang Ideal?. Retrieved from: https://www.halodoc.com/artikel/berapa-jam-waktu-tidur-yang-ideal- 

Indrasty, R. (2021, July 16). Selain Kasus Pria Alami Koma Setelah Tidur di Atas Jam 12 Malam, Wanita Asal Indonesia Ini Justru Meninggal Akibat Begadang. Grid.id. Retrieved from: https://www.grid.id/read/042806160/selain-kasus-pria-alami-koma-setelah-tidur-di-atas-jam-12-malam-wanita-asal-indonesia-ini-justru-meninggal-akibat-begadang?page=all 

Mardatila, A. (2020, September 16). Dampak Kurang Tidur bagi Kesehatan Tubuh, Serang Saraf hingga Imun. Merdeka.com. Retrieved from: https://www.merdeka.com/sumut/dampak-kurang-tidur-bagi-kesehatan-tubuh-serang-saraf-hingga-imun-kln.html 

Putri, G. S. (2018, April 13). Bukti Baru, Begadang Tingkatkan Risiko Kematian Dini. Kompas.com. Retrieved from: https://sains.kompas.com/read/2018/04/13/113000423/bukti-baru-begadang-tingkatkan-risiko-kematian-dini?page=all 

Ramadhan, K. (2016, June 24). Awas, Begadang Bisa Picu Penyakit Jantung. Klikdokter. Retrieved from: https://www.klikdokter.com/info-sehat/read/2697752/awas-begadang-bisa-picu-penyakit-jantung

Blood In Every Aspect of Our Lives: From Donor to Dengue

Written by Amaranila Nariswari, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Have you ever noticed that in life, we encounter many things related to blood? In horror movies, blood was added to give scarier effects. In medical science, blood can save someone’s life, and of course, we have blood in our bodies! Blood has so many functions. The red ones carry oxygen from our lungs to all body parts. It also takes carbon dioxide back to our lungs, preventing us from getting poisoned from it. On the other hand, white blood cells help fight infections. They are in charge of healing our wounds and protecting us from mutated cells like cancer. I wonder what blood tastes like. Not in a vampire-blood-eating sense, but more to why mosquitoes need to get a sip of our blood. Anyway, while we’re talking about blood, do you know that today is World Blood Donor Day? If you don’t, then now you know! However, do you also know that tomorrow is ASEAN Dengue Day? What a coincidence! So, why don’t we discuss both while we’re at it? 

When I was in High School, the red cross organization of my school often conducted a blood donor program. I really wanted to participate since I believe donating blood is an act of bravery that requires a lot of willingness, and that every drop of blood is highly needed. However, I never had the chance to! Usually, I fail the blood pressure test as my blood pressure is low since I always go to sleep late and skip my breakfast before school. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the number of people interested in donating their blood  has decreased, while people needing blood transfusion doesn’t seem to lessen. Indeed, it is risky to donate your blood amidst the pandemic, but if you’re healthy and interested in doing it, don’t hesitate to get your blood checked and see if it fits the red cross organization’s criteria for a blood donor. Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), a sufficient quantity of blood products is the key  to an effective health system (WHO, n.d). It might seem scary at first, but so many good things come from donating your blood. In fact, it helps your blood to circulate and regenerate! Don’t forget to eat a balanced diet before, and after you donate your blood, you’ll feel refreshed after.

Here, I’ll help you check out a few things you need to know before you go right away to donate your blood. First thing first, if you’re in Indonesia, make sure you’re over 17 years old and weigh more than 45 kilograms (PMI, 2016). If you’re less than 45 kilos, you might pass out once your blood is taken! You will be the one needing it most then, and you DON’T want it to happen, do you? Next, I’m hoping you wouldn’t make the same mistake: I went to sleep late the day before and skipped breakfast. Remember, you need the energy to donate your blood, and the only way to have that energy is by consuming a balanced and nutritious diet. Make sure you’re not pregnant or in a condition that doesn’t support you to donate your blood (PMI, 2016). Always consult and be honest with the medical personnel about your health condition to prevent unwanted side effects. You can always check out your local red cross organization’s website for further information regarding blood donors. 

However, if you feel sick and  enervate, I advise you to get your blood tested to see if there are problems with your blood. One of the most common sicknesses related to blood is dengue fever. You might wonder why in Indonesia, this sickness is called “Demam Berdarah Dengue”, and here’s why: dengue fever can escalate to a dangerous state  where people have low blood platelets, blood plasma leakage, and low blood pressure to an extreme level if the sickness develops into dengue hemorrhagic fever (Kularatne, 2015). According to WHO (2022), dengue fever is an illness caused by the dengue virus. There are four kinds of dengue serotypes, and each person can get infected all FOUR times! It is a mosquito-borne disease, so its spread is from infected female mosquito bites feeding, especially Aedes aegypti (WHO, 2022). When one gets an infection from this virus, they usually show symptoms through a high fever, muscle and joint pains, a severe headache, and even vomiting. One of many things you need to know about the sickness is that dengue fever happens in many hot and humid places like in Southeast Asia and Latin America, especially during the rainy season.

Dengue fever can be prevented by cleaning the environment thoroughly, removing egg-laying habitats like puddles, disposing of your wastes properly, and regularly covering or emptying water storage containers (Break Dengue, n.d). If someone shows symptoms of dengue fever, they should immediately consult a health facility and consume a diet consisting of enough nutrition, especially vitamins, to help the body produce more platelets. Do not ignore the symptoms that appear because, at some level, dengue can be fatal. Now that you know a few more things regarding blood-related aspects in your lives, please give more attention to your health. Make sure that you eat a nutritious diet and take good care of your environment. Remind your loved ones to do the same to ensure a more healthy lifestyle. When we’re aware about our environment and health, not only do we save ourselves, but we save others, too!

References:

Break Dengue. (n.d). How to prevent the transmission of dengue virus. Break Dengue. Retrieved from https://www.breakdengue.org/toolkits/keep-dengue-away/?utm_source=googlegrant&utm_medium=ad&utm_campaign=toolkits&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvqeUBhCBARIsAOdt45b_AaFChe3e7iXIpBQBCnriKBVT-yTvFkIg-4hqf0709Cz5XaY72XYaApoiEALw_wcB 

Kularatne, S. (2015). Dengue fever. BMJ; 351. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h466

PMI. 2016. Syarat untuk Menjadi Donor Darah. PMI. Retrieved from http://ayodonor.pmi.or.id/about.php 

WHO. (n.d). World Blood Donor Day. WHO. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-blood-donor-day 

WHO. (2022). Dengue and severe dengue key facts. WHO. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dengue-and-severe-dengue

Gratis Vaksin Kanker Serviks: Harga Kecil Demi Keselamatan Anak Gadis Kita

Written by Maria Olivia Laurent, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Kabar gembira untuk perempuan Indonesia! Seperti yang telah ramai beredar di berita beberapa waktu lalu, pemerintah akan segera mewajibkan pemberian vaksin kanker serviks atau Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) secara gratis mulai tahun ini. Rencananya, program ini akan dimulai pada bulan Agustus dan September 2022 seiringan dengan kegiatan Bulan Imunisasi Anak Sekolah (BIAS). Di bawah naungan Kementerian Kesehatan (Kemenkes), pemberian vaksin HPV bertujuan sebagai tindakan pencegahan penyakit kanker serviks dan penerapan kebutuhan kesehatan dasar masyarakat. Imunisasi gratis ini ditargetkan untuk anak perempuan di rentang usia 11 sampai 12 tahun, atau kelas 5 dan 6 SD, dan akan dimulai di 11 kabupaten/kota di DKI Jakarta, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Bali, Sulawesi Utara, Sulawesi Tenggara, Gorontalo, dan Bali. Pihak sekolah bertugas untuk memfasilitasi program ini dan diharapkan bisa mencapai cakupan 95 persen dari target. 

Sebelum kita membahas program ini lebih lanjut, yuk kenali dulu apa itu kanker serviks dan mengapa vaksin HPV sangat dibutuhkan. Kanker serviks muncul ketika sel-sel di leher rahim bermutasi secara abnormal dan tidak terkendali, yang mengakibatkan tumor pada jaringan organ. Tumor ganas ini kemudian berkembang menjadi kanker serviks. Penyebabnya pun bervariasi, bisa karena penularan saat hubungan seksual, mengonsumsi obat-obatan, merokok, kekebalan tubuh yang lemah, maupun faktor genetik. Kanker serviks menyerang wanita di semua usia, namun wanita yang belum vaksin HPV memiliki risiko yang jauh lebih tinggi. 

Kanker serviks adalah salah satu jenis kanker yang paling banyak menelan korban di dunia. Menurut data Kemenkes, kanker ini menempati posisi kedua kanker yang paling umum diderita wanita Indonesia dan setidaknya ada 15.000 kasus kanker serviks terjadi tiap tahunnya (Halodoc, 2019). Rata-rata kematiannya pun mencapai 13,9 per 100.000 penduduk. Data WHO menunjukkan bahwa 90% kasus kanker serviks terjadi di negara berkembang, termasuk Indonesia, karena keterbatasan akses skrining, deteksi dini, dan vaksin HPV. Kesadaran masyarakat pun masih rendah karena kurangnya sosialisasi. Hal inilah yang menjadi pertimbangan kuat pemerintah menerbitkan program vaksin HPV guna menekan angka kejadiannya sehingga bisa teratasi di tahap awal. 

Gejala yang timbul pun baru terasa saat sudah memasuki stadium serius. Maka dari itu, penting untuk kita ketahui tanda-tandanya terlebih dahulu agar dapat segera ditangani. Gejalanya meliputi: pendarahan tidak wajar dari vagina saat menstruasi atau berhubungan seks, nyeri pada panggul dan pinggang, badan lemas, berat badan menurun drastis, dan keputihan yang tidak normal seperti bau menyengat atau disertai darah. Infeksi ini disebabkan oleh virus HPV, namun tidak semua virus HPV dapat menyebabkan kanker serviks. Dari ratusan jenis virus HPV, hanya 14 jenis yang dapat menyebabkan kanker, dan 70% kasus disebabkan oleh virus HPV tipe 16 dan 18. Vaksin yang diberikan pun tersedia dalam beberapa jenis menyesuaikan dengan varian virus HPV. Beberapa diantaranya adalah (Alodokter, 2022):

  1. Vaksin Cervarix

Vaksin ini digunakan untuk mencegah kanker serviks yang disebabkan oleh varian HPV-16 dan HPV-18 dan diberikan kepada wanita berusia 9-25 tahun.

  1. Vaksin Gardasil

Vaksin ini dapat mencegah tidak hanya kanker serviks, namun juga kanker vulva serta kanker lainnya pada vagina dan anus. Selain HPV 16 dan 18, vaksin ini juga bisa mencegah varian HPV 6 dan 11 yang menyebabkan kutil kelamin. Vaksin ini dapat diberikan ke wanita maupun pria.

  1. Vaksin Gardasil 9

Pengembangan dari vaksin sebelumnya, vaksin ini dapat mencegah HPV 31, 33, 45, 52, dan 58. Dapat diberikan ke pria dan wanita usia 9-45 tahun.

Untuk pemberian dosis vaksin HPV pun juga berbeda berdasarkan usia. Dosis vaksin HPV untuk anak usia di bawah 15 tahun diberikan sebanyak 2 kali, dengan jarak dosis kedua 6-12 bulan setelah dosis pertama. Sementara untuk remaja dan dewasa diberikan sebanyak 3 kali dosis dalam jarak periode 6 bulan. 

Namun, sama seperti kebijakan baru lainnya, program vaksin gratis ini menuai beberapa kontra dari masyarakat. Yang pertama, beberapa kelompok menganggap program ini menghabiskan uang negara. Padahal, menggratiskan imunisasi dan vaksin merupakan salah satu kewajiban negara dalam memfasilitasi kesehatan masyarakatnya. Sudah ada beberapa program gratis yang diimplementasikan sejak bertahun-tahun lalu, seperti imunisasi polio, campak, hepatitis, dan yang terbaru, vaksin Covid-19. Pemerintah perlu lebih giat lagi mengedukasi masyarakat agar tidak timbul masalah lanjutan yang bisa menghalangi program vaksin ini. 

Kontra kedua berkaitan dengan syarat dan ketentuan, yakni mengapa vaksin kanker serviks ini hanya digratiskan untuk rentang usia tertentu saja dan wanita di luar kategori tersebut harus membayar sendiri. Hal ini dijawab langsung oleh Menteri Kesehatan Budi Gunadi Sadikin di tayangan Youtube Kemenkes. Beliau memaparkan bahwa alasan vaksin HPV hanya digratiskan untuk anak SD adalah karena efektifitas. Vaksin diberikan ke anak gadis yang belum menstruasi dan melakukan hubungan seksual agar tingkat efektifitas pencegahan lebih tinggi daripada kelompok remaja dan dewasa. Ia kemudian menekankan bahwa sistem vaksin ini adalah pencegahan, bukan pengobatan, dan paling tepat disasarkan di usia anak-anak. 

Isu terakhir adalah munculnya beberapa hoaks di media sosial yang mengakibatkan orang tua ragu. Untungnya, Kemenkes cepat tanggap dalam menepis hoaks-hoaks seperti vaksin mengakibatkan menopause dini atau kemandulan melalui laman resmi mereka. Informasi ini juga disebarluaskan oleh Kementerian Komunikasi dan Informatika (Kominfo) yang menekankan bahwa tidak ada hubungan antara Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) dengan penggunaan vaksin HPV. Malah, vaksin HPV penting untuk menghindari penyakit-penyakit lain yang berhubungan dengan kanker serviks karena fungsinya sebagai antibodi. Vaksin yang diberikan juga telah melalui banyak uji klinis dan mendapatkan ijin resmi dari WHO. 

Sudah paham kan mengapa vaksin kanker serviks ini sangat penting untuk masa depan anak gadis kita? Namun, tugas kita belum selesai. Mari kita kawal program ini agar dapat berjalan dengan lancar sampai ke pelosok Indonesia, dan tetap meningkatkan kesadaran masyarakat tentang bahaya kanker serviks. 

Referensi

Vaksin Kanker Serviks Bisa Buat Mandul, Mitos atau Fakta? (2022, April 20). CNN Indonesia. https://www.cnnindonesia.com/gaya-hidup/20220419160921-255-786712/vaksin-kanker-serviks-bisa-buat-mandul-mitos-atau-fakta

Kanker Serviks. (2019, November 26). Halodoc. https://www.halodoc.com/kesehatan/kanker-serviks

Saptohutomo, A. P. (Ed.). (2022, April 20). Ketentuan Terbaru Vaksin Kanker Serviks Gratis untuk Anak. Kompas. https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/04/20/17523711/ketentuan-terbaru-vaksin-kanker-serviks-gratis-untuk-anak?page=all

Ini Pentingnya Vaksin Kanker Serviks. (2022, April 29). Alodokter. https://www.alodokter.com/ini-pentingnya-vaksin-kanker-serviks#:~:text=Vaksin%20Cervarix%20digunakan%20untuk%20mencegah,wanita%20berusia%209%E2%80%9325%20tahun.

Saving the Groundwater: Bringing Groundwater Awareness through Online Campaign

Project Child Indonesia celebrated 2022 World Water Day by organizing a series of events and campaigns to promote groundwater awareness concurrently with the UN World Water Development Report 2022 and UNESCO’s annual environmental theme. Project Child Indonesia, along with various stakeholders and organizations, created a water week dedicated to not only raising awareness of groundwater but also encouraging people to take action in contributing to protecting our most vital natural resources for the sake of future generations. 

In celebration of World Water Day, Project Child Indonesia raised “Saving the Groundwater with A Healthy Lifestyle” as the main theme of this year’s biggest environmental event yet. The event took place from the 19th to 26th of March 2022, involving a rough estimate of 100+ volunteers and stakeholders taking part in the online campaign and webinar. The webinar was not only made to increase awareness, but to also celebrate the works of dedicated environmental actors and organizations in their respective fields. The key actors are:

  1. Sabrina Farah Salsabila, a master of science candidate from HE Delft Institute for Water Education;
  2. Muhammad Rizky Pratama from Bye Bye Plastic Bag Chapter Jogja, an organization committed to educate and end the use of single plastic use. 

These actors enlightened us on the importance of groundwater and how we can prevent contamination from taking place. In addition to that, this webinar was intended to help us understand how our lifestyle affects the scarcity and quality of our natural resources. It is in fact important to note that our lifestyle greatly affects the environment. Knowing that, any form of action to save the environment can indeed prevent major disasters, so long as we remain consistent. 

To this day, Project Child Indonesia continues to advocate for the cause by collaborating with Campaign.com #ForChange in order to get more people to take action and promote a healthier lifestyle for all. 

https://www.campaign.com/challenge/id/save-the-groundwater-with-healthy-lifestyle

Click the link and take part in our online campaign NOW! By taking part in this campaign, you’re not only doing the Earth a favor, but you’re also supporting our cause and helping our organization to facilitate upcoming projects!

Our speakers and participants

Merayakan Hari Susu Sedunia, Mengingat Kembali Kebutuhan Gizi Seimbang

Written by Amaranila Nariswari, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Selamat menyambut bulan Juni! Tahu tidak, setiap tanggal 1 di bulan Juni, seluruh dunia memperingati Hari Susu Sedunia, lho! Hari perayaan yang cukup unik, ya. Lantas, mengapa sih, kita merayakan hari susu ini? Organisasi Pangan dan Pertanian di bawah Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa (PBB) atau yang lebih umum kita kenal sebagai Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) memperingati hari susu sedunia untuk mengingatkan kita akan pentingnya susu sebagai salah satu komponen gizi yang paling penting bagi manusia, khususnya anak-anak. Ingat tidak, kita dulu punya slogan gizi 4 Sehat 5 Sempurna? Angka 4 mewakili makanan pokok yang mencakup protein, karbohidrat, dan vitamin seperti nasi, lauk pauk, dan sayuran serta buah. Adapun angka 5 ditambahkan untuk mewakili susu sebagai komponen penyempurna hidangan (Kemenkes, 2014).


Dewasa ini, istilah 4 Sehat 5 Sempurna sudah jarang kita jumpai karena lebih umum menggunakan istilah Pedoman Gizi Seimbang, atau dalam bahasa Inggris dikenal dengan nama “Nutrition Guide for Balanced Diet”. Istilah 4 Sehat 5 Sempurna dinilai sudah tidak relevan lagi dengan perkembangan zaman dan kebutuhan gizi masyarakat, karena pada dasarnya, kebutuhan gizi manusia berbeda-beda menyesuaikan kondisi tubuh, sehingga tidak dapat dipukul rata jenis makanan yang harus dikonsumsi setiap orang (Kemenkes, 2014). Hayo, makanan kamu sudah sesuai dengan kebutuhan gizimu,  belum? Adapun melalui slogan Pedoman Gizi Seimbang ini, diharapkan masyarakat dapat memperhatikan yang dinamakan sebagai “Prinsip 4 Pilar”. Wah, apa tuh Prinsip 4 Pilar?!, kita bahas satu-persatu, yuk!

Prinsip 4 Pilar atau empat pilar gizi seimbang merujuk pada hasil rekomendasi Konferensi Pangan Sedunia yang dilaksanakan di Roma pada tahun 1992. Rekomendasi ini berupaya untuk meningkatkan kesadaran masyarakat dunia akan pentingnya keseimbangan gizi dalam tubuh melalui pemantauan zat gizi yang keluar dan masuk lewat berat badan seseorang secara teratur. Pilar pertama adalah konsumsi anekaragam pangan. Sudah tahu belum, di dunia ini, tidak ada satu pun makanan yang mengandung zat gizi lengkap yang dibutuhkan bagi pertumbuhan sekaligus menjaga kesehatan tubuh kecuali Air Susu Ibu (ASI) untuk bayi yang baru lahir, lho! Oleh sebab itu, penting untuk mengonsumsi makanan beraneka ragam yang mengandung kalori, mineral, serat, vitamin, protein, karbohidrat, juga kandungan gizi lainnya (Kemenkes, 2014). Tentu saja, kita tidak dapat serta-merta mengonsumsi anekaragam pangan tersebut dalam sekali makan, melainkan juga memperhatikan proporsi makanan yang seimbang dan cukup, tidak kurang dan tidak lebih!

Setelah mengonsumsi makanan sesuai dengan kebutuhan gizi tubuh, jangan lupa untuk membiasakan perilaku hidup sehat, ya! Beberapa upaya yang dapat dilakukan untuk membiasakan perilaku hidup sehat antara lain: rajin mencuci tangan, memastikan alat makan berada dalam kondisi bersih sebelum digunakan, memastikan makanan yang akan dikonsumsi terbebas dari debu dan lalat, serta rajin membuang sampah sesuai dengan jenisnya. Hal ini dilakukan untuk mencegah menularnya penyakit yang bersifat infeksius. Apabila kita mengalami infeksi, akan mudah bagi tubuh untuk mengalami penurunan nafsu makan. Hal ini akan berdampak pada menurunnya zat gizi yang terkandung dalam tubuh, akibatnya, metabolisme tubuh menjadi turun dan kondisi badan menjadi tidak fit (Kemenkes, 2014). Apabila kalian merasakan gejala tubuh yang kurang fit, jangan lupa untuk mengonsumsi makanan yang sehat dan perbanyak cairan dalam tubuh dan suplemen. 

Ketiga, rajin melakukan kegiatan yang memerlukan penggunaan fisik. Ketika tubuh kita aktif, maka metabolisme dalam tubuh kita akan menjadi lancar. Gizi yang ada dalam tubuh tidak tertimbun, melainkan berubah menjadi energi yang kita gunakan untuk melakukan aktivitas tersebut. Secara tidak langsung, kita harus menggantikan gizi yang hilang tersebut agar tubuh tetap memiliki cadangan energi melalui makan makanan bergizi. Terakhir, jangan lupa untuk memantau berat badan kita secara teratur! Pemantauan berat badan ini dilakukan dengan memperhatikan beberapa hal. Misalnya saja, bayi yang baru lahir umumnya menyesuaikan dengan umur, sedangkan orang dewasa lebih ditekankan pada berat dan tinggi badan (Kemenkes, 2014). Harapannya, dengan mengimplementasikan empat pilar gizi seimbang ini, masyarakat khususnya anak-anak, dapat tumbuh dengan baik. 

Kembali membahas soal susu, sudahkah kalian tahu tahu bahwa susu yang berasal dari hewan ternak seperti sapi, kambing, atau kerbau memiliki banyak sekali kandungan gizi, mulai dari lemak, karbohidrat, vitamin, mineral, dan protein (Dispertan Semarang, 2021). Kandungan gizi yang terkandung dalam susu dan produk turunannya tersebut memiliki manfaat yang sangat besar bagi tulang, antara lain mencegah osteoporosis dan membantu tulang agar tetap kuat, terutama bagi anak-anak. Sayangnya, tidak semua orang bisa mengonsumsi susu hewani tersebut. Tidak sedikit orang yang mengonsumsi susu ataupun produk turunan susu lainnya seperti krim dan keju justru mengalami sakit perut. Besar kemungkinan mereka menderita yang dinamakan dengan intoleransi laktosa. Wah, apa lagi, tuh, intoleransi laktosa?! Intoleransi laktosa merupakan gangguan pencernaan yang diakibatkan oleh gagalnya tubuh mencerna laktosa karena tubuh tidak memproduksi enzim laktase. Akibatnya, laktosa tidak dapat diubah menjadi energi sehingga tubuh bereaksi dan menunjukkan hal tersebut melalui diare, kembung, dan sering buang angin (Tamin, 2020).

Jika kalian merupakan penderita intoleransi laktosa, jangan khawatir! Ada banyak sekali pengganti susu hewani yang juga kaya akan manfaat dan zat gizi. Kalian dapat mencoba berbagai jenis susu nabati, seperti susu kedelai, almond, hingga gandum. Selain dikonsumsi untuk diminum secara langsung, aneka ragam susu nabati ini bisa banget, lho, untuk dikreasikan, misalnya saja untuk campuran smoothie, fruit bowl, bahkan kopi! Lezat, dan tentunya bebas laktosa, jadi kalian tidak perlu khawatir mengalami risiko-risiko intoleransi laktosa. ‘Gimana, nih, teman-teman, sudah minum susu belum, hari ini? Yuk seimbangkan kebutuhan gizi kita hari ini dengan minum susu!

Referensi: 

Dinas Pertanian Kota Semarang. (2021). Mengenal Susu (Definisi, Komposisi, dan Jenis). Dinas Pertanian Kota Semarang. Retrieved from https://dispertan.semarangkota.go.id/mengenal-definisi-komposisi/#:~:text=Susu%20merupakan%20bahan%20makanan%20yang,mineral%20(0%2C07%25) 

Menteri Kesehatan Republik Indonesia. (2014). PMK No. 41 tentang Pedoman Gizi Seimbang. Menteri Kesehatan Republik Indonesia. Retrieved from  http://hukor.kemkes.go.id/uploads/produk_hukum/PMK%20No.%2041%20ttg%20Pedoman%20Gizi%20Seimbang.pdf

Tamin, Rizki. (2020). Intoleransi Laktosa. Alodokter. Retrieved from https://www.alodokter.com/intoleransi-laktosa 

First Child’s Struggles, Is It Worse for Daughters?

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

We’ve all heard about birth order stereotypes, right? The oldest one is known to bear the biggest responsibility, such as watching the younger siblings 24/7 and taking care of the entire house when their parents are gone somewhere. On the other hand, the second or middle siblings are kind of invisible. They had all the love and attention before the youngest one was born, but who knows where it went after the youngest arrived. Finally, the youngest one is, you know, the rebel and most spoiled. 

I’m not going to tell you whether those assumptions are right or wrong. Instead, I’d like to talk more about the known “responsibility” that oldest children seem to bear. I myself am actually the second and also youngest child in my family, and I had never known that my older sister has been carrying a certain amount of weight all her life. It was not until I talked to my friends, who happen to be first-born children. It turned out that they all share the same struggles; one of them even says that the burden of being a female first-born is bigger than the males. Is it true?

The struggles of the eldest daughter

Society certainly does expect so much from women in terms of household responsibilities, but would you expect that children should bear it too? A psychotherapist explained that eldest daughters carry so much burden because it is a behavior learnt at a very young age (Morris, 2022). They spent such a little time being children, but they soon had to adapt into an older figure by the time they have younger siblings. Since women are commonly seen as caregivers, mothers usually expect the eldest daughter to take the mother role whenever they are unable to keep an eye on the children. This can lead to pressures and anxieties that preserves until they grow up to be adults. It also leads to a tendency of people-pleasing behaviors because they are so used to being responsible for everybody’s well-being.

Another pressure that eldest daughters seem to encounter is that they have to be “perfect”, as if there is any human being who’s perfect at all. The article by Morris also collected some experiences that eldest daughters faced; one said that she was always pushed to be the best in school and in her personal life. This sadly relates to my friends’ experiences on a spiritual level. They all experienced the pressure of having to thrive academically and get into a hardcore major in college, such as medical or law. Whereas, their younger siblings are free to choose whichever major they want. I think it’s quite unfair how eldest daughters are controlled so that they can be an “example” of a perfect child. What’s the point of shaping a perfect child if the younger ones are free to do whatever they want instead of following their sister’s steps? 

Domestic responsibilities

You may ask, how are the struggles different from first-born sons? As you may know, our world is pretty much still tied to a patriarchal system. Men are valued ever since the day they were born, they don’t even have to try. The biggest difference falls into the household responsibilities. Eldest daughters tend to be burdened by house chores and caregiving responsibilities, as women are expected to fulfill those roles at any time point in their lives. On the other hand, boys tend to be free from those responsibilities just because of their gender. They are not expected to be good at cleaning, cooking, doing the laundry, or any other house chores that you can name. Caregiving is also not an expected skill from men, which is quite flawed considering it’s both parents’ job, mother and father, to take care of their children.

Let’s overcome your struggles, ladies

If it’s not already late for you, try to set boundaries for your parents and siblings. Everybody likes to say, “Communication is key,” and I think that’s right. If you’ve never told your parents that they are asking too much of you at such a young age, things won’t likely ever change. They will continue asking you to be the best and the most responsible. So, you’ll have to try negotiating with them for certain things that you think are too much. For example, if you are demanded to get a 100% score test when you already get a 97%, explain that this is already your best. This is the result of you staying up all night studying while still maintaining your sanity.

If that phase had passed already, now it’s time for you to be kind to yourself. A psychology coach and teacher says, “It’s not your responsibility to make sure everyone is okay,” and that you don’t have to fix everyone. You have sacrificed a big part of your childhood making sure that your siblings are okay, and now that you’re all adults, you can let them go. They are now responsible for their own well-being, and so are you. You can stop sacrificing your time and energy to help others when you actually need to help yourself too. Let’s stop putting pressure on yourself, and think about what you really want to do with your life now that your siblings are not your children anymore.

Are you taking deep breaths now? Thinking about a spa or a self-care night at home? Good, keep going! Take your time to relax and focus on yourself, whatever that means for you. Having experienced the weight of being the eldest daughter, I hope you wouldn’t pass it to your future daughter if you expect to have children. I believe you already know that having a perfect daughter isn’t realistic and making them take a mother role isn’t ideal at all. Let’s end these struggles, not only for you, but for all the first-born daughters in the next generations. 

References

Morris, N. (2022, January 11). Surface Pressure: The psychology of ‘eldest daughter anxiety’. Metro.co.uk. Retrieved from: https://metro.co.uk/2022/01/11/surface-pressure-the-psychology-of-eldest-daughter-anxiety-15898221/ 

Memilih Childfree, Mendefinisikan Kembali Peran Wanita

Written by Maria Olivia Laurent, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

“Kok umur segini belum punya anak?”

“Semoga nanti habis nikah langsung dikasih momongan ya~”

“Makin banyak anak makin banyak rezeki, hihi.”

Kayaknya sudah biasa ya mendengar pertanyaan-pertanyaan seperti itu dari keluarga dan teman-teman? Haduh, sudah beban menjadi wanita di era sekarang ini susah, ditambah lagi ekspektasi dan nyinyiran dari orang sekitar. Nyatanya, asumsi bahwa setiap wanita akan menjadi seorang ibu sudah mendarah daging di pikiran dan tradisi masyarakat sejak berabad-abad yang lalu. Hal ini merupakan sebuah konsekuensi hidup di tengah budaya patriarki yang membatasi peran wanita sedemikian rupa. Kasarnya, wanita itu cuma mesin ngelahirin dan ngebesarin anak doang.

Tidak ada salahnya jika wanita ingin menjadi seorang ibu. Menjadi ibu adalah sebuah kehormatan dan pengorbanan besar demi membesarkan buah hati. Namun, tidak ada salahnya pula jika wanita tidak ingin menjadi seorang ibu. Semua ini tergantung pilihan. Konsep ‘my body my choice’ inilah yang melahirkan fenomena childfree yang sedang marak dibahas di masyarakat dan media sosial. Childfree adalah sebuah istilah yang merujuk pada orang atau pasangan yang memilih untuk tidak memiliki anak. Childfree tidak sama dengan childless, ya. Childless merujuk kepada kondisi dimana seseorang tidak memiliki anak karena sebuah keadaan walaupun mereka menginginkan anak tersebut. Gampangnya, childfree itu terjadi karena faktor internal yakni pilihan. Sedangkan childless terjadi karena faktor eksternal seperti keguguran, penyakit, maupun kondisi fisik lainnya. 

Fenomena childfree ini terbilang kontroversial karena banyak yang beranggapan bahwa wanita harus memberikan keturunan untuk suaminya. Sebuah hakikat seorang wanita yang tertulis di ajaran-ajaran agama dan norma sosial. Akan tetapi, seiring berkembangnya zaman dan isu-isu yang berdampak besar di kehidupan manusia, asumsi ini mulai diperdebatkan. Melihat dari data sensus penduduk, angka kelahiran di Indonesia terus mengalami penurunan. Di tahun 2019 sendiri angka kelahiran kasar per 1000 penduduk di Indonesia hanya berada di angka 17.75. Laju pertumbuhan penduduk pada tahun 2010-2020 menunjukan angka 1.25%, sebuah penurunan dari periode sebelumnya tahun 2000-2010 pada angka 1.49% (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2020). Laju ini juga diprediksi akan terus menurun di periode berikutnya. 

Lantas, apa sih yang membuat semakin banyak orang memilih untuk childfree? Ada banyak faktor yang mendukung hal tersebut, terkait masalah fisik, psikologis, ekonomi, juga faktor lingkungan. Yuk kenali alasan-alasannya terlebih dahulu sebelum kita berpikir yang enggak-enggak dan main hakim sendiri. Siapa tahu salah satu alasan di bawah ini kalian setujui juga.

Pertama adalah kondisi fisik yang tidak memungkinkan untuk memiliki anak. Entah itu karena penyakit bawaan, tubuh yang lemah, atau risiko kehamilan dan melahirkan yang besar. Jadi daripada membahayakan ibu dan janin, lebih baik tidak memiliki anak saja. Biasanya, wanita yang memutuskan untuk tidak memiliki anak karena memprioritaskan kesehatannya akan dicap egois. Mereka yang bilang seperti itu mungkin tidak paham tentang kondisi medis dan seberapa bahayanya kehamilan bagi beberapa wanita. Kalau kata dokter sudah mustahil, jangan dipaksakan karena dorongan orang sekitar, sebab ibu bisa kehilangan nyawa dan sang bayi bisa lahir cacat atau malah meninggal. 

Kedua, kondisi psikologis. Seseorang harus memiliki mental dan kesiapan batin yang matang untuk dapat membesarkan anak. Mereka mungkin sadar bahwa mental mereka masih rapuh atau ada trauma masa lalu yang belum terselesaikan. Oleh sebab itu, mereka memutuskan untuk childfree agar anak mereka tidak terbebani masalah orang tuanya dan tidak tumbuh di lingkungan yang toxic. Lagi-lagi, memiliki anak adalah sebuah tanggung jawab yang besar dalam berjangka panjang. Jika seseorang merasa masih belum siap menanggung itu, mungkin menjadi childfree adalah jalan yang tepat untuk saat ini. 

Alasan ketiga ini bisa dibilang adalah alasan terkuat. Faktor keuangan yang belum stabil. Aku rasa ungkapan “banyak anak banyak rezeki” ini hanya berlaku untuk keluarga yang sudah berkecukupan. Jika kebutuhan sehari-hari saja masih susah tercukupi, bagaimana dengan kebutuhan anak nantinya? Kaum milenial lebih memilih untuk menabung daripada memiliki anak. Bukan karena pelit, tapi karena mereka tidak ingin anak mereka tumbuh serba kekurangan. Nanti saat ekonomi sudah jaya, baru mereka akan memiliki anak di rumah yang sudah sejahtera. Atau jika nanti tetap memilih untuk childfree, hal ini juga wajar, kok. Toh, kalian bebas untuk menggunakan uang hasil kerja kalian sendiri. Banyak juga orang kaya childfree yang memutuskan untuk menjadi orang tua asuh atau donor anak-anak panti asuhan. 

Faktor selanjutnya adalah lingkungan. Anak muda lebih mempunyai environmental awareness dibanding generasi sebelumnya. Memiliki anak akan menambah overpopulasi dunia dan memperparah kerusakan lingkungan. Emisi karbon dikhawatirkan akan semakin memburuk dan membuat keberlangsungan makhluk hidup terancam. Anak-anak kita pun akan terancam. Mereka akan hidup di dunia dengan keterbatasan air bersih, tumpukan sampah, jalanan macet, dan sebagainya. Memang, kita tidak bisa memprediksi apa yang akan sesungguhnya terjadi di masa depan, namun melihat dari kondisi memprihatinkan Bumi kita saat ini, tidak herab bahwa argummen lingkungan ini menjadi semakin populer di kalangan childfree

Terakhir adalah alasan personal. Mereka memang tidak mau punya anak, sesederhana itu. Mungkin mereka tidak suka anak kecil, ingin kebebasan total, tidak mau terikat, dan lain sebagainya. Namun, hal yang perlu diingat adalah keputusan childfree ini harus merupakan keputusan bersama jika terjadi di sebuah pasangan agar tidak menimbulkan konflik. Jangan lupa untuk diskusi tentang anak waktu mempersiapkan pernikahan ya!

Ketika kita sudah memutuskan untuk childfree, kerap muncul pertanyaan ini: Nanti siapa yang akan merawatmu waktu tua?

Wah, berarti sama saja mereka menginginkan balas budi dari anak mereka saat tua nanti. Anak bukanlah pembantu atau sumber uang kita. Kita melahirkan dan membesarkan mereka dengan ikhlas. Belum tentu juga anak akan mau merawat orang tuanya saat tua nanti, jadi pernyataan itu sejatinya tidak berlaku untuk orang childfree

Pada akhirnya, beberapa orang masih akan mengatakan keputusan childfree ini egois. Tetapi, akan jauh lebih egois untuk memiliki anak karena tekanan sosial dan menyesalinya nanti. Orang tua tidak akan bahagia. Anak-anak pun juga tidak akan bahagia. Mereka juga mungkin akan mengatakan bahwa memiliki anak akan membuat hidup seseorang bermakna, tapi sekali lagi, makna hidup setiap orang berbeda-beda. Setiap orang berhak mengambil keputusan akan hidup mereka sendiri, entah itu memiliki anak atau tidak, dan hanya mereka yang dapat menilai apakah keputusan itu tepat atau tidak. 

Referensi

Cain, S. (2020, July 25). Why a generation is choosing to be child-free. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jul/25/why-a-generation-is-choosing-to-be-child-free

Clason, M. (2020, October 12). Why Do People Choose to Be Childfree?. Soapboxie. https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Why-Do-People-Choose-To-Not-Have-Kids

Fenomena Childfree di Indonesia. (2021, September 2). Media Indonesia. https://epaper.mediaindonesia.com/detail/fenomena-childfree-di-indonesia

Saroh, N. I. (2021, September 5). Tren Childfree Pasangan Muda, Bisakah Diterapkan di Indonesia? Voi.Id. https://voi.id/berita/82230/tren-childfree-pasangan-muda-bisakah-diterapkan-di-indonesia

Should Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities Bear Children?

Written by Amaranila Nariswari, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

If you’re into controversial ideas, maybe you’ve heard people talking about how individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) should not be allowed to bear children. Some say they tend to have a lower ability to develop skills needed for day-to-day survival like communication and interpersonal skills, including self-awareness and empathy. Is it true, though, that ID people should not bear children? Personally, I am against this idea. For me, it is selfish, and I could not see any logical reasons behind it (I had to create a debate simulation with my friend to check both the pro and cons arguments, still, I could not find it acceptable to deny every human’s right to bear children!). I must admit, though, this controversial subject is interesting to discuss!

Before we proceed, it is important to know different types of ID. According to Byrd (2020), there are two dimensions of people with ID: one concerning their intellectual functioning and the other is related to their adaptive behaviors. Intellectual functioning is highly related to what we know as the intelligence quotient or the IQ, in which a test can measure. It is related to one’s learning ability, decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving. On average, people score between 85 to 115, while those scoring under 75 or 70 are considered low intelligence. On the other hand, adaptive behaviors are related to how people communicate, understand others, and take care of themselves. A concrete test like the IQ doesn’t usually measure adaptive behaviors. Instead, it needs to be observed and measured by a specialist by comparing one’s behavior with others of the same age. 

Is ID genetically inherited? Well, yes, and no. Conditions like Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome are usually inherited. However, ID cases are not as common as we thought they were. According to the American Psychiatric Association, ID affects 1% of the population, while 85% out of it have mild ID (APA, 2021). Some other IDs in children can be caused by the condition of the mother’s pregnancy or situations during childbirth, like consuming alcohol during pregnancy, lack of nutrition needed, or the babies being born way too early (Byrd, 2020). This is why expecting women should really pay attention to themselves and the baby and get their pregnancy routinely checked. 

Aside from being genetically inherited or situations during pregnancy and childbirth, more common causes of ID children are caused by how they are nurtured. Like whether ID people should not be allowed to bear children, the psychological debate over nature versus nurture has also been around for some time now. Psychologists have discussed which one affects more significant human development (Cherry, 2020). Nativists believe that one’s behavior is ‘wired’ from the very beginning, under the influence of the genetic code the parents have. In contrast, Empiricists believe that babies are born like a blank canvas, which will gradually be filled with what they learn along the way they grow. I can’t say which one is correct and which one is not, for I believe that both have their right-and-can-be-proven points. If you’re interested in this topic, I suggest you look more into it by reading psychological journals and readings. Even though both are correct, if we look into our environment, we can see that nurture plays a very important role in child development. When children are badly nurtured, they tend to fail developing skills children need, like understanding their environment and differentiating which behavior is suitable for children their age. 

These days I’ve been watching a kid in my neighborhood selling rice boxes every day. I don’t know where he came from, but I see him in his usual spot everyday, sleeping on hard concrete beside his old bicycle and looking tired. I feel sad as I believe children his age should not spend their time collecting money, but instead study and play with their friends. Learning and playing with friends is a privilege this kid doesn’t have. He might not be identified as an ID person. However, the environment he lives in does not rule out the possibility of this kid failing to develop the skills needed to survive. Instead of prohibiting ID people from bearing children, negligent parents shouldn’t have children. No parents are perfect. However, before having children, it is important to understand that parental roles include ensuring that your children’s basic needs are met, especially in terms of education and safety, including love and care for them. 

Children raised by negligent parents tend to perform lower in almost every aspect of their lives, especially academically and in skills revolving around social and emotional (Zahedani et al., 2016). This is harmful to the children, as they will be late to understand how things should be done in real life. What can we do, though, if we see cases of negligent parents? You can help the children by giving them company, talking to their parents, and if the issue is bad, please, report it to the Child Protection Commission. However, before we see the act of negligence, we have to try to prevent it by introducing a child-friendly environment and socialization regarding taking good care of children. Remember, children cannot choose who their parents are, but they sometimes have to bear their parents’ mistakes (in which they should NOT). As privileged people who understand the importance of children’s development, it would be good if we could bat an eye at our environment, ensuring no more harm is done to children.

References:

APA. 2021. What Is Intellectual Disability? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/intellectual-disability/what-is-intellectual-disability#:~:text=Additionally%2C%20the%20intellectual%20and%20adaptive,be%20diagnosed%20with%20intellectual%20disability

Byrd, Florence. 2020. Intellectual Disability. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/child-intellectual-disability 

Cherry, Kendra. 2020. The Age Old Debate of Nature vs. Nurture. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nature-versus-nurture-2795392

Zahedani, Zahed et al. (2016). The influence of parenting style on academic achievement and career path. J Adv Med Educ Prof. 2016;4(3):130-134.