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Jakarta Post

Military, police to form joint task force to help tackle outbreak in Papua

  • Safrin La Batu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, January 23, 2018   /   03:42 pm
Military, police to form joint task force to help tackle outbreak in Papua Malnourished siblings Epi (left), Arfat (center) and Poma from Sarwamok in Agats district, Asmat regency, Papua, are being transferred to Agats General Hospital on Jan. 18. The children were found by paramedics who were deployed in response to a recent measles outbreak. The journey from Asmat’s capital to Agats regency takes several hours by boat. (JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)

The Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police will soon establish a joint task force to help address health problems in remote areas in Papua, the country's easternmost province where outbreaks of measles and malnutrition have recently been occurring.

The plan was made following President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s instruction he issued during a military-police leadership meeting at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Tuesday, said TNI chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.

"The military commander and the police chief will soon discuss the technicalities and other details so the task force could start the operations there very soon," Hadi told reporters after Tuesday's closed-door meeting.

Among the planned duties of the task force, which is expected to operate for a year, are to regularly transport medicine and doctors to Papua, as well as to monitor health issues in the province, particularly in Asmat, a regency in the southern part of Papua, and other areas prone to outbreaks.

The measles outbreak, along with malnutrition, has claimed at least 59 children in Asmat from September 2017 to January this year.

The Health Ministry had tried to prepare for the health emergency since September last year when they first received reports about the situation in Asmat, but some districts were difficult to reach quickly.

Jokowi had earlier also instructed the ministry and the TNI to work closely in tackling the health problem in Asmat, recently prompting the military to send its medical team and food supply. (ipa)