The Jakarta Post
Thirty eight residents in Semenage district, Yahukimo, Papua, were reported to have died during the May-August period due to sickness and poor access to healthcare services.
“They died after falling ill. They suffered from various symptoms including coughing, diarrhoea, headaches and abdominal pain. I think they only had mild illnesses, which they could have recovered from if they had received medicine. But instead their illnesses led to death because of the absence of health workers and a lack of medicine,” said John Jonga, a Catholic reverend who serves in Yahukimo.
The religious leader, who won the Yap Thiam Hien Award in 2011, said he was informed by the local people that there had been deaths caused by poor access to healthcare services, after which he deployed a team to investigate the reports.
“I have reported it to the Yahukimo regent [Abock Busup] and the head of the Yahukimo Health Agency. They are ready to deliver 100 kilograms of medicine to Semenage. The medicine will be brought to the district by health volunteer Habel Lokon,” said John.
He explained that in 2013, 61 Semenage residents of various ages died of illnesses that were getting worse after they were unable to get proper healthcare services.
“Semenage has only one sub-community health center [Pustu] and a medical aide who serves nine villages. It’s a very difficult task [...],” John said. He hoped that local authorities could dispatch a team to Semenage to directly see the living and health condition of the residents in the district. (ebf)
Challenging task: A member of the army provides health care to local residents in a village in Papua. Poor access to healthcare services in Papua's remote areas remains unresolved. (Pendam XVIII/Cenderawasih/File)