World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

INDONESIA: Papua faces health emergency

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDONESIA: Papua faces health emergency

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is concerned about the health crisis facing Asmat regency in Papua, Indonesia. So far, 68 children have died from measles and serious malnutrition in Asmat. As reported by national media, the measles and malnutrition epidemic has affected 11 districts of Asmat regency: Swator, Aswi, Akat, Fayit, Pulau Tiga, Kolf Branza, Jetsy, Pantai Kasuari, Safan, Unirsarau, and Siret. Being the most remote areas of Asmat regency, victims in these districts have faced serious difficulties in obtaining access to medical facilities. Even in the regency’s capital, Agats, the Agats General Hospital (RSUD) is not equipped to deal with all the patients of measles and malnutrition. A category D hospital with limited facilities, paramedics and doctors, the hospital at present needs more medicine due to limited stock, and due to limited space, some patients have been hospitalized in the nearest church building.

This circumstance shows how Papua has been left behind in terms of health facilities, infrastructure and development. In Jakarta, Java island or other islands such as Sumatera and Bali, there are numerous public and private hospitals of type B and A, easy to access. Papua mostly has public hospitals of type D, especially in remote areas. There is a category A hospital in Jayapura city, the capital of Papua, but it is quite far from Agats and to reach Jayapura from Agats is not easy due to the lack of infrastructure.

The above situation clearly highlights how neither the central government of Indonesia in Jakarta, nor the local government in Papua province and Asmat regency have been able to develop an early warning system to prevent measles and malnutrition. The AHRC is concerned that the epidemic can easily spread to other places in Papua, particularly in remote areas lacking in health facilities. Since Papua was integrated into the Republic of Indonesia in 1969, Papua has remained the poorest and least developed province.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Indonesia is obligated to ensure its citizens’ rights to be free from hunger; to address the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; and to create conditions which would assure medical attention to all. Similarly, national laws such as Law No. 36 of 2009 guarantee the right to equal health access for all citizens. The AHRC views the current lack of health access and facilities in Papua, and the deaths of 68 children, as a clear violation of the Indonesian government’s responsibility towards its citizens. By not developing equal health care in Papua, the government is to blame for this considerable loss of life. The current efforts to address the problem are simply too little, too late.

The government should immediately announce a health emergency in Papua and open access for medical aid, including international medical support. It should also allow access to the media to ensure accountability and to monitor the eradication of the epidemic. Furthermore, the government needs an affirmative action policy to boost development of health access in Papua. The assistance from the central government should not merely be limited to eradicating disease in Asmat regency, but should ensure that remote areas in Papua receive priority in development of health access, facilities and infrastructure.

The National Commission on Human Rigths (Komnas HAM), the Minister of Health and Ombudsman of Republic of Indonesia, the House of Representatives, in particular Commission IX which concerns health, food and medicines, should take initiatives to monitor, evaluate and ensure the implementation of such policies. Local government should also open access for NGOs and media to monitor the recovery and development in remote areas.

Further, the AHRC also urges the government to comprehensively ensure that all children, including pregnant mothers in Papua, particularly in Asmat regency, are given enough nutrition, food, and vaccines to prevent disease.

# # #

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Binoy Kampmark: Europe Dries Up
Scenes and pictures have been circulating of broken earth, lacking moisture, cracked and yearning. But these are not from traditional drought-stricken parts of the planet, where the animal carcass assumes near totemic power... More>>



UN: Bachelet Alarmed By Number Of Palestinian Children Killed In Latest Escalation

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory this year, including in intense hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza last weekend... More>>

Save The Children: One Year Under Taliban Rule, Girls Are More Isolated, Hungry, Sad: New Report
One year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, an economic crisis, crippling drought and new restrictions have shattered girls’ lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry...
More>>

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>



Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>