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Slow response to measles outbreak in Papua

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Solidarity to help Asmat health crisis by young people in Biak Island, West Papua Province/Paul Finsen Mayor facebook

Jakarta, Jubi – Indonesia’s Government has come under fire for its slow response to a severe measles outbreak in the province of Papua that has claimed the lives of dozens of children.

The alarming number of deaths in Asmat has also led to outrage in local Indonesian media, as ABC news reported.

But Jakarta defended its response and said the remote area was difficult to access quickly.

“Yes we have very limited means and staff but this doesn’t mean we aren’t trying very hard,” Agats health department spokesman Steven Langi told Al Jazeera.

“What we need is not just to be criticised, but real help. Those who criticise us I want to invite to work here.”

Indonesia’s Government announced it was setting up a taskforce in Papua to help contain the outbreak and the Indonesian military said it was also sending more medicine and doctors to the province.

Scramble to attend Papua measles outbreak

Indonesian health teams are scrambling to attend to the deadly measles outbreak in Asmat district of Papua province, as reported by RNZI (29/1).

Since reports of the extent of outbreak filtered out of Papua earlier this month, Indonesia’s government has moved quickly to attend to the situation, but is copping criticism for neglecting the health of Papuans over many years.

Papua’s police commander, Boy Rafli Amar last week said the number affected by malnutrition had surpassed 10,000, which was exacerbating the measles problem.

An integrated health team to respond to the crisis has been dispatched from the Papua Province Health Office, Indonesian National Army, and the Ministry of Health.

The epidemic is being attributed by health officials to food shortage, a poor sanitary environment, and a lack of medical personnel and facilities in Asmat.

Jakarta responsible

Despite Papua region’s abundant resources, which provide significant revenue for the Indonesian state, Papua continues to lag in human development outcomes.

Across the whole Indonesian republic, the highest poverty rates, in relative terms, are all in its far east provinces of Papua, West Papua and Maluku, according to Jakarta’s Statistics Agency.

The health situation is of particular concern. Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates. Diseases such as malaria, leprosy and malnutrition have strong footholds in in Papua, as does HIV/AIDS.

Although since coming to power in late 2014, President Joko Widodo promised to bring greater economic and social development to Papua, as well as improved health care, the welfare of Papuans appears to have deteriorated.

In the past couple of years, several reported outbreaks of endemic diseases in various parts of Papua have killed hundreds of people.

The government still significantly restricts access to Papua for international humanitarian and health NGOs who could help bolster public health services.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, reported after visiting last year that he was “concerned about the health status of ethnic Papuans” and called for greater health investment.(abc.net.au/RNZI/Zely)

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The story of Nduga refugees: Mother died while giving birth to her child

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Refugees in Nduga – Jubi/Doc

Nduga, Jubi – On Wednesday (9/1/2019), the sixteen-years-old Inambo Tabuni just arrived in Wamena, and she told her story in a refugee camp. 

Soldiers came by helicopter; a bomb dropped into the village.

People fled to the forest to save their lives. Many parents were separated with their children, while those who’re in refugee camp feel grateful that they can run away,” she recounted the incident occurred in the mid-December 2018.

The refugees take shelter in provisional tents and caves in the forest. They have insufficient food to eat. Men took a risk walking dozens of kilometres to reach gardens. They gathered sweet potatoes and taros from the garden in the night.

It helped us to stand for two or three days. After that, men will return to the garden and come back in the night,” she said.

According to her refugees are distributed into small groups to a big group. “Each group contains at least ten people or more.”

She also revealed their suffering living in a refugee camp. “It seems that we are living in someone else’s place. We want to live safely in our village.”

When she arrived in Mbua from Dal, a pregnant woman Selfina Lokbere (32 years old) just came from a refugee camp, and last week Lokbere reportedly had a delivery complication. Both mother and child died.

Selfina Lokbere, who was the wife of Yakerena Umangge, reportedly gave birth to twins. Her first twin managed to be smoothly born, while the second got stuck during delivery.

The second child did not come out, so the mother tried to pull her baby out, but she couldn’t make it.”

Meanwhile, Elinaus Tabuni, a member of the health care team of Papua Province in Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regency, confirmed the incident that occurred on 2 January 2019.  

This woman just arrived from the forest and gave birth. She had only a child who died with her during the delivery,” he said.

Further, the congregation of Imanuel Church of Mbua takes care of the funeral of Selfina Lokbere and her child, while the medical team checked the rest of her family. It turns out that she has other six children who are still alive. They are Esok Umangge (7), Londice Umangge (8), Ason Umangge (9), Jemison Umangge (3), and the twins Rinthi dan Rentha (2,6). Currently, the twins of the late Selfina Lokbere, Rinthi and Rentha then raised by Gelipa Tabuni, their mother’s relative.

In the meantime, locals said the cause of her death is because she didn’t eat and drink well while in the refugee camp, whereas the medical team thought it’s possibly because of her giving birth too often.

Meanwhile, related to Nduga refugees, the Secretary of Youth Church Solidarity Alfonsa Wayap said three children were reported dead in refugee camp due to malnutrition. The children Ubugina Unue (2), Bugun Unue (1) and Raina Kogoya (5) died in Yal Sub-district.

The local also said there are ten pregnant women among them. “Some already give births while some are waiting for the due date.” (*)

 

Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Current conditions of Nduga refugees: getting sick, trauma and injuries

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Women and children in Yigi Sub-district come to the central of sub-district from refugee camp to meet the evacuation team. – Jubi/Victor Mambor

Wamena, Jubi – The health care team of Province Papua assisted by the Health Office of Nduga Regency, which was deployed to provide health services in sub-districts affected by gun conflict in Nduga, has returned to Wamena after serving the community.

Based on three days health examination (from 8 to 10 January 2019) implemented in sub-districts of Mbua, Dal and Mbulmu Yalma, they found common diseases appeared among the refugees.

The health care team coordinator dr Beery I. S Wopari explained this happened due to lacking food supplies. “In our struggling to overcome the geographical challenge during the services, there are indeed some diseases that dominantly found among adults and children,” he told reporters in Wamena on Friday evening (11/1/2019).

He added that his team found many cases of joint and bone pain as well as the pain in the entire body and headache. There are also some cases of high blood pressure among men and women.

Meanwhile for children, infants and toddlers, the common diseases found in respiratory infectious diseases such as flu and cough as well as diarrhoea, intestinal worms and wounds. They also found some pregnant women among the refugees. 

Many children also have wounds in their body as a result of falling in the running.

Dr Wopari also revealed that there are three adults wounded by gunshot, but they didn’t come to treatment so that the team only gave medication to reduce pain.

Meanwhile, a member of health care team Elianus Tabuni admitted that the deployed team has 16 people consisting of specialists, medical practitioners, and nurses and assisted by a team from the Health Office of Nduga Regency. The three days services concentrated in three sub-districts, Mbua, Dal and Mbulmu Yalma, Nduga Regency plus Ilekma Sub-district, Jayawijaya Regency because many people fled to Wamena.

The team also planned to go to Yigi Sub-district in the third day, but due to an unfavourable situation, they returned to Wamena to continue their service there.

We communicated with the military regarding the update situation in Yigi. They suggested us not to come to the area because of gunshots arbitrary caught in this area. We assumed it was a bad sign for us to continue our journey to Yigi Sub-district,” said Elianus Tabuni.

He also admitted besides the geographical difficulties and cold weather, people who come for treatment didn’t trust them for the first time.

They might be traumatic thus they ever questioned us whether we came to help them, to provide health services or another else,” said Tabuni. (*)

 

Reporter: Islami Adisubrata

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papuan youth church ministry held aid solidarity for Nduga

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Nduga residents forced to exile from their villages. – Jubi / IST

Nduga, Jubi – On 5 January 2019, the Catholic Youth and their young fellows of Papuan Baptist Church, GIDI and GKI formed a Youth Church Ministry for Nduga Aid Solidarity.

Everyone is responsible for representing their institutions for this solidarity,” said Alfonsa Wayap, the Secretary of the Youth Church Ministry for Nduga Aid Solidarity.

The Catholic Youth has sent letters to seven parishes under Jayapura deanery of Jayapura Diocese, that are the churches of Kristus Terang Dunia Waena, Kristus Juru Selamat Kotaraja, Santo Fransiskus Assisi APO, Gembala Baik Abepura, Santo Petrus and Santo Paulus Argapura.

The deanery of Jayapura preferred because it locates in the capital city of Papua Province, Jayapura, which known as the centre of education and economic development of Papua. Thus, these young people pinned their hopes to its residents to get involved for solidarity.

I wrote to the parish priest. We hope they will announce it to people in the Sunday mass on 6 January,” she said.

Meanwhile, Deacon David Wilil Pr, the assistant of Parish Priest of Kristus Terang Dunia Waena, confirmed received the letter from the Catholic Youth. “We already received the letter. I have submitted it to the board of the Parish Council. There the board will talk,” he said. 

About the aid, the Coordinator of Youth Ministry for Nduga Aid Solidarity Yendinus Mabel who’s also the General Chairman of GIDI Youth said this solidarity is solely concerned about the humanity regardless of political interest.

Moreover, donations collected from seven parishes brought to the secretariat of aid solidarity in GIDI Headquarters located in Jl. PLN, Sentani of Jayapura Regency, 26 kilometres from Jayapura City to be transferred to Nduga.

Travelling from the capital city of Papua to Nduga Regency is not easy. People can only access it through Jayawijaya Regency which takes about 45 minutes by air plane flying from Jayapura. Then we should spend almost a day travel by car to reach Nduga and take more two days on the road to reach the location of refugees.

We hope this aid will go to the right persons,” he told Jubi.

In the meantime, Ester Haluk who represents her colleagues of KINGMI Papua said this aid is critical to help Nduga resident reducing their life burden and trauma against the military operation.

There is a trauma among the refugees. As a human being, we want to be comfortable, feeling safe, free to work to fulfil their basic needs.” (*)

 

Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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