ACTNews, ASMAT – Malnutrition crisis spreads in Papua once more. The crisis happened along with measles epidemic in Asmat Regency. This calamity, which was declared Extraordinary Event, afflicted hundreds of people in several districts in Asmat for four months. Most of the victims are children.
On Wednesday (17/1), the Head of Societal Health Bureau of Asmat Health Department, Steven Langi, said that during September 2017 to January 2018, 63 children were dead due to measles and malnutrition. This number is based on the data collected by four teams of integrated measles and malnutrition countermeasures in Asmat.
Meanwhile, Asmat Regional Hospital (RSUD Asmat) reported that hundreds of children suffering from measles and malnutrition are still undergoing medical treatments. Until Thursday (11/1), it was reported that 393 patients were outpatients while 175 others were inpatients. The number of victims is predicted to increase because many parts of the region haven’t been reached by medical teams.
The measles epidemic and the malnutrition have been widespread among the people, especially children, for quite a long time. Unhealthy diet and lifestyle are likely to be the reason. According to an MRI-ACT volunteer in Asmat regency, the children prefer eating instant food, causing nutrients defficiency to their bodies.
“The diet of the people who live in the southern regions, such as Asmat, Digul, Agats, Kepp, and Mappi, consists mainly of instant food. For example, rather than consuming fresh fish that they catch, they would eat canned fish instead. Instant noodles are also becoming their favorite food, even children do not want to eat if there’s no instant noodles,” said Ade Fadz, an MRI-ACT volunteer in Asmat.
Fadz also emphasized on the lack of hygiene among the locals who live in coastal areas. These areas are typically swampy, but the residents do not really care about keeping their personal hygiene, such as washing their hands.
“Perhaps this hygiene issue is the main reason for the measles epidemic,” added Ade.
To respond the measles epidemic and malnutrition in Asmat, ACT’s Emergency Response team will immediately go to the location. Nurjannatunaim, a member of the Emergency Response team, said that the team will leave on Thursday night (18/1).
“Insha Allah, we plan to go on Thursday night (18/1). When we arrive, we will perform an assessment to map the afflicted areas,” explained Nur.
He added that after all areas have been mapped, the team will perform assistance to all the victims of measles and malnutrition.
“We plan to provide medical assistance and distribute nutritious food packages for the children suffering from measles and malnutririon. Pray for us, may the distribution of the aid run smoothly,” expressed Nur.
Even though it is located in the easternmost part of Indonesia, Papua never missed any forms of care. In 2006, ACT along with Indonesian people helped to alleviate famine and malnutrition crisis in Yahukimo Regency. Additionally, humanitarian aid was also distributed to the victims of flash flood in Wasior, Teluk Wondama Regency, West Papua in 2010.
This donation trust for the people of Papua will continuously be given. Among them is the distribution of educational aid for Papuan children in Tembrauw Regency, Raja Ampat Regency, as well as Sorong City in 2015.