Some 800 children have been sickened by a measles-and-malnutrition outbreak in Indonesia's remote Papua province, officials said Thursday, with as many as 100 other people, mostly toddlers, feared to have been killed.
The latest figures mark an escalation of a health crisis first made public in mid-January that underscores the severe lack of medical care and other basic services in a far-flung island region shared with Papua New Guinea.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered military and medical teams to bring supplies to remote villages, amid a low-level separatist insurgency largely driven by resentment over conditions in the impoverished region.
Doctors at an overloaded and under-equipped hospital in Agats were struggling to cope Thursday, as crying, rake-thin children wandered smelly hallways where some patients lay on rickety gurneys, an AFP reporter witnessed.
Local officials were shocked by the spike in measles cases, which is being blamed partly on weakened immune systems due to lack of food.
Many parents travelled for hours to seek care for their children in Agats, which has the only hospital in the outbreak-hit Asmat region, a swampy area criss-crossed by rivers.