Malaria threatens children
in E. Nusa Tenggara

The high number of malaria cases has become a serious threat to many children in Belu regency, East Nusa Tenggara, an expert on malaria says.

East Nusa Tenggara-based malaria expert with UNICEF Indonesia, Ermi Ndoen, said that infant mortality rates caused by malaria in the province has reached 80 children per year - the highest rate in Indonesia. Eastern Indonesia’s rates of infant mortality due to malaria stood at 77.5 per 1,000 births.

Ermi added that according to research complied from 2007 until recently, more than 60 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the area had been infected with malaria.

“The government has not yet deemed this as threatening. This disease needs serious attention from every party,” Ermi said in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday.

Ermi pointed to factors such as the environment, residents’ behaviour, lack of proper health services and genetic traits as contributing to the high rate of malaria in the area.

Province gubernatorial expert Hieron Fernandez said that the province already had the Mosquito bylaw, which allows the administration to sentence a household, which has been found guilty of neglecting mosquito larvae in their houses, to a maximum sentence of four years' imprisonment. However, the bylaw cannot be implemented effectively, because the governor has yet to issue a gubernatorial regulation for technical guidance.

“Four regencies in the province already have the draft of the bylaw. But they can’t implement it for so many reasons,” Hieron said.

The Indonesia – Timor Leste border area in Belu regency is an endemic malaria region during both rainy and dry seasons. An area in the south of Belu, which shares a border with Suai district, Timor Leste, recorded the highest number of malaria cases, while an area north of Belu, which shares a border with Bobonaro and Manatuto districts in Timor Leste, has seen increasing cases of malaria during the dry season. (swd)

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