The Progress of Health Development In West Papua During The Covid-19 Pandemic

West Papua

We are heading to the end of 2020. It has not been a great year for many around the world. This includes Indonesia, especially Papua and West Papua. When it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic, every country has its own way to maintain their health development. This includes health development in West Papua.

So, how is the health development being dealt with so far?

June 2020 – Another Month of Emergency Status Extension

West Papua

West Papua consists of residents with a variety of abilities to access healthcare, financial sources, and many more. Because of this, the provincial government did not want to take more risk. By mid-June 2020, there was a declaration for an emergency status extension for another month.

The extension had given the task force more time to handle Covid-19. During this period, they were optimizing some preparations regarding the new normal protocols. The preparations included conducting research and mapping—and also the establishment of the quarantine facilities. The last one was being done by working together with other healthcare services.

Another thing that the task force had enforced was the penalty for those who dared go against the new normal health protocols, risking themselves and many others with the spreading of the Coronavirus.

There was also a generous contribution from dr. Victor Eka Nugrahaputra. In the same month of June 2020, the West Papua RT-PCR Biomolecular Laboratory was established. This contribution will hopefully help many healthcare workers, scientists, and many more to work on the vaccination for the Corona virus.

So, who is dr. Victor Eka Nugraha and why is his role prominent in health development?

November 2020 – Laying The Groundwork for Covid-19

West Papua

Meet dr. Victor Eka Nugrahaputra. According to Australia Awards Indonesia, this doctor is one of the frontliners who has been working in preparation for West Papua to face the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasized two important things:

  • Infection prevention.
  • Control.

According to dr. Victor, healthcare workers must do the two things above as well. This is also because many of them are the frontliners in tackling this pandemic.

On the 21st to 22nd of October 2020, dr. Victor became the speaker at an IPC workshop in Sorong Health Office. The workshop was for health workers from 10 community health centres and two hospitals. The workshop was also supported by the UNICEF.

During the workshop, it had been confirmed that there were 3,653 cumulative cases in West Papua. Unfortunately, 51 lives had been lost.

The Challenge Is Always The Same: The Stigma

West Papua

This is not the first time the world has suffered a global pandemic. According to dr. Victor, the challenge was always the same. The stigma that has gone around the Covid-19 patients and the healthcare workers dealing with them makes it even harder. The families of the Covid-19 patients have also suffered the same stigma from the broader community – either out of misunderstanding or plain ignorance.

Because of the stigma, some patients lacked the mental and emotional support that they needed from their own families, friends, and the community where they lived. The same thing happened to the families of the patients too. Once the patient’s status was discovered or outed, the families received the same stigma.

Through the workshop, dr. Victor stressed the IPC Committees’ crucial role regarding the prevention of infection among healthcare workers. Although some have played their role well, some of them still needed reminding.

How To Challenge The Stigma Regarding The Covid-19 Patients, Families, and Healthcare Workers 

West Papua

Still based on that experience, dr. Victor still believed that continuous education was still needed in order to reduce stigma. Other things that dr. Victor also does include managing and making frequent contributions to the Provincial Health Office blog.

Alongside his team, dr. Victor has also implemented firm standard operating procedures. The procedures include:

  • Covering guidance for quarantine.
  • Protocols in handling the deceased, Covid-19 patients.
  • Providing PPE (proper, personal equipment) for healthcare workers.
  • Conducting regular swab tests for residents (and healthcare workers too).

RT-PCR stands for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction. This is a nuclear-derived method that is used to detect genetic materials in any pathogen. This includes detecting the virus.

Regarding the lab, dr. Victor said that there were now several labs for RT-PCR across regencies and cities. The labs are on the run 24/7 in order to provide certainty regarding a diagnosis as soon as they can. The government officials, such as the Ministry of Health and the Governor of West Papua, are also fully involved in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic is still far from over, unfortunately. Although there has been news regarding the vaccination tests, there has not been a clear, final answer to this global pandemic. However, many participants regarding health development in West Papua will not stop just right there. There are still a lot to do.