More than 50 Children Die in Papua as Authorities Struggle to Contain Outbreak

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Indonesian authorities are facing difficult challenges in their efforts to contain an outbreak of measles in Papua which has plagued the region for almost five months and killed dozens of children.

Among the challenges hampering efforts to provide treatment and vaccinations to locals were a lack of access to remote areas, insufficient personnel and the high mobility of villagers, according to Stefanus Lange, a doctor at a state-run hospital in Papua’s Asmat district, as reported by the Associated Press.

The outbreak, which was first detected in September last year, has killed 36 people in the Pulau Tiga subdistrict with another 22 dead in Agats, the capital of Asmat district in the easternmost part of Papua. It is highly likely that certain areas in the region have not reported accurate accounts of measles cases, which means that the number of victims could possibly be higher, Lange added.

According to data from hospitals, as many as 568 people in total have been treated for measles since September with 175 of them requiring hospitalization. The data also showed that one child died in Pulau Tiga of malnutrition, which has also plagued some villages in the district.

According to an AP report, a team of more than 50 doctors and paramedics from the Indonesian military arrived Tuesday in the province to help assist.

 

Photo courtesy of ANTARA/M Agung Rajasa

For further information on the government’s immunization campaign, click here.

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Ardi Wirdana is a Jakarta-based journalist covering a variety of topics including business, policy, and news in Indonesia.