38 people in districts Semenage and Werima die due to absence of health services

A further case of negligence of health care services has been reported by local human rights activists in the districts of Semenage and Werima of Yahukimo Regency in the central highlands of Papua Province. Between May and August 2017, 38 villagers had died of multiple sicknesses due to the absence of health services in the districts. The exact cause of death is not known but the human rights activists stated that all victims reported similar symptoms, among them coughing, flu, diarrhea, high fever and back aches.

The head of the Papuan Provincial Government Health Agency, Mr Alysius Giyai confirmed the deaths of 38 villagers, consisting of 22 males and 16 females. According to Mr Giyai, the victims suffered Bronchopneumony, TBC or other bronchial infections, as well as diarrhea, malaria and HIV/AIDS.  The lack of health services had forced the villagers to walk several days to the highlands city of Wamena, where the nearest hospital is located. In the village of Wesagelap the local health post had already stopped operating four years ago.

The tables below show a breakdown of the data collected at the districts of Seminage and Werima:

 Deaths broken down according to affected villages:

Names of Villages

Cases of deaths

Semenage Village

10

Ison Village

6

Asopo Village

3

Hugilokon Village

6

Muke Village

3

Haleroma Village

3

Notnare Village

5

Hirin Village

2

TOTAL

38

Deaths broken down according to age groups:

Age Group

Cases of deaths

0 – 5 years

7

6 – 16 years

3

16 – 25 years

6

26 – 60 years

22

TOTAL

38


Background

The Provinces Papua and Papua Barat continue to be amongst the regions with the highest child mortality in Indonesia whilst quality of health services is alarmingly low. Health facilities do not hold up to international health standards with regard to medical equipment, human resources and hygiene. Both provinces receive sufficient amounts of money for the improvement of health services, which are higher than in other provinces of Indonesia because of their special autonomy status ('Otsus'). Apart from 'Otsus' funds, every regency receives health funds from the national ministry of health (Operational Health Funds, BOK) and the local governments as part of the regional income and expenditure budget 'APBD'.

Despite the availability of financial means, general hospitals are only available in urban areas, while health services in rural areas are provided by small clinics (PUSKESMAS) and health posts (PUSTU) which often lack personnel capacities, adequate medication and equipment. The absence of health facilities and medical personnel rural areas has lead to various cases in which dozens of villagers died in a short period of time because their villages remained untouched by government health services. The central highlands of West Papua seem to be among the most affected areas.

Multiple media outlets reported the deaths of 37 villagers between January and April 2017 in the Awena District of Lanny Jaya Regency, Papua Province. The alleged reason for the deaths was an epidemic diarrhea outbreak in the villages Tinggira, Nambume, Eyumi, Uragabur, Yugimia and Indawa.

Human rights defenders reported of a further health crisis, which affected seven villages in the Tigi district of Deiyai Regency as well as villages in the valleys Kamuu and Mapia of Dogiyai Regency. Multiple reports on the health situation in the affected area indicate that the local governments have failed to provide basic health services and carry out preventive health measures in the affected villages such as vaccinations, sanitation and hygiene. Multiple sicknesses had caused the deaths of at least 93 villagers between April and July 2017 – most of them children below the age of ten – in the seven villages Ayatei, Piyake Dimi, Yinidoba, Digikotu, Epanai, Wagomani and Demago in the district Tigi.