The Government’s Priorities on Health Development in Papua & West Papua

Health Development in Papua
Health Development in Papua & West Papua

There are several health concerns in Papua and West Papua that have to be overcome by the Indonesian Government. All of which are on critical rates, so acceleration on health development in both provinces is a must.

The main difficult challenges faced by the Indonesian Government are maternal and under-5 (infant) mortality which is considered the highest in the country. Based on data of the UN Human Rights Council, in 2015, there were 305 deaths in every 100,000 births.

Some reports proved that most of the maternal deaths are caused by complications in pregnancy, poor delivery process, early pregnancies, postnatal care, and inadequate access to services of family planning.

Meanwhile, the under-5 death cases in Papua and West Papua are mostly caused by pediatric TBC (tuberculosis) that may result in more complications, such as tuberculous meningitis (TBM) and hydrocephalus.

Back in 2016, specifically, in Teluk Bintuni, West Papua, there were 56 pediatric TBC cases which then went up to 58 the following year. In the same year, there were also 289 pediatric TBM cases and 204 of them came with hydrocephalus.

To make it worse, HIV/AIDS also adds to the list of the main health concerns in both provinces, especially Papua. Based on a study in 2016, 2.4% of Papua’s population was living with HIV. The rate of HIV cases in the region is reportedly higher among the youth—generally aged between 15 and 20 years old.

The Government’s Priorities on Health Development in Papua & West Papua

Health Development in Papua
Healthy Papua Card

Despite the terrible fact about health concerns in the land of Cenderawasih birds, Indonesian government cooperating with the local government have taken some great effort to reduce the critical rates on this sector.

According to the Head of the Papua Health Service, in order to deal with health issues and challenges in Papua and West Papua, it is important to accelerate development in this sector. On the other hand, a major breakthrough is needed to provide measurable results in a relatively short time and to cater to the community’s needs.

One of the government’s programs to support health development in Papua and West Papua is establishing Healthy Papua Card (Kartu Papua Sehat or KPS) program with a referral system. In addition to that, there is also the work program that guarantees each person’s first 1,000 days of life, flying and floating medical services (using aircrafts and boats) as well as the Barefoot Task Force (Satuan Tugas Kaki Telanjang) services.

Furthermore, there are also activities to support the implementation of Health Operational Assistance (Bantuan Operasional Kesehatan/BOK) for the local community health centers (Pusat Kesehatan Masyarakat/Puskesmas) management. Thus, health services with minimal facilities are available at Puskesmas.

Speaking of health centers, the government’s other priority on health development is opening many more hospitals and community health centers in both Papua and West Papua. Currently, the Papua Provincial Health Office consistently encourages health service improvement in the regions, specifically coordinating with the regency government in accrediting the existing health centers (so far, only two Puskesmas have been accredited).

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia also assures that it will always support health development in Papua even though some hospitals temporarily stop operating due to several ongoing conflicts, especially in Sorong, Jayapura, and Manokwari. They keep coordinating with the Indonesian National Armed Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia/TNI) for optimum protection of public health facilities there.

The Government’s Efforts on Health Care during COVID-19 Pandemic

Health Development in Papua
Priorities on Health Development in Papua

Since late 2019, as the whole world suffers from COVID-19 pandemic, Papua and West Papua have also been affected by the horrible situation. Hence, Jayapura City Government decided to turn Sahid Hotel to a COVID-19 temporarily referral hospital. Despite the high budget it requires to treat patients diagnosed with the deadly virus in the 3-star hotel, the Government of Jayapura City still supports the treatment there.

Thankfully, Papua Provincial Government has agreed to transfer extra funding for this matter as much as Rp5 billions. Now, all the existing Corona-positive patients have been treated well in the temporary hospital. As we know, currently, there have been 3,257 cases of COVID-19 in Papua (with 1,848 have recovered, and 35 have passed away).

Although Hotel Sahid has been used as a temporary referral hospital for Corona patients, the local government also suggests self-isolation to some affected residents. It is also recommended that all the Papuans are able to adapt with the “new normal” program which will start in September 2020. The entire community is also expected to stay well-ordered in carrying out the health protocols applied.

Conclusion

To conclude this article, it is important for the Indonesian Government to be highly committed to controlling the mortality due to the health concerns mentioned above. It takes great coordination as well between all parties including the local governments and the community to accelerate the health development in both Papua and West Papua.

Therefore, it is suggested that the Indonesian Government improve the health care system, guarantee adequate and sustainable funding for the health sector, and also continue bettering access to health services, especially in remote regions. This, of course, will require a specific focus on the quality of medical services, the medical team roles and cultural as well as social factors.