ASIA/INDONESIA - Indonesian Papua faces health emergency

Monday, 29 January 2018 healthcare   indigenous   children   solidarity   local churches   missionaries   human rights  


Agats (Agenzia Fides) - The health crisis which broke out in mid-January 2018 has affected hundreds of families in the province of Agats, capital of Asmat district, in the Indonesian province of Papua, where more than 80 children have died from measles and malnutrition. The alarm was launched in an interview with Agenzia Fides by Fr. Mushtaq Anjum, Camillian missionary (MI), engaged in Maumere, in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. "The first cases were registered in September 2017 but only now the central Government has sent a team of doctors to the region", says the priest. Even the Agats General Hospital is not equipped to deal with all the patients of measles and malnutrition, which in the last five months has registered 646 cases of measles and 144 of severe malnutrition.
Fr. Hery Nahak, Verbite priest, (SVD), pastor and head of the health committee of the diocese of Agats, denounced the situation and said that the victims of this crisis are between 1 and 3 years of age. Another Camillian priest who is on the spot, Fr. Mensa Aman, said that "the Papuan people are deprived of education and other basic needs, and that the Indonesian government has so far neglected the life and development of the inhabitants of this area".
In the area there is only one hospital and 13 local clinics for a total population of 90,316 people and it is very difficult to manage such a serious health emergency, the religious note. People cannot reach the facilities due to the lack of transportation, bad roads and poverty that have contributed to the loss of many innocent lives. "It is time for the Government to take note and intervene seriously", stress the missionaries.
Papua, also known as Irian Jaya, is the easternmost province of the Indonesian archipelago and the western part of the island of New Guinea. Christianity is widespread among the population of Papua and the Catholic Church is flourishing. Out of a population of 57.269 Catholics, the diocese of Agats, in 2016, registered 2,209 new baptized. (MA/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 29/1/2018)