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Jun '04

Malaria spreads in Papua, W. Java

Health officials in Papua and West Java provinces are expressing concern over the increase in the number of malaria cases caused by the spread of the anopheles mosquito in the provinces.

According to an official at Papua Provincial Health Office, Tigor Silaban, malaria has become the leading cause of death in Papua.

The Papua Health Office recorded 16,771 malaria cases in the first half of 2004 in the province where the disease is endemic. The number of people who contracted malaria dropped to 72,198 in 2001 from 125,148 in year 2000, but the number rose again to 77,716 in 2002 and even soared to 185,843 in 2003.

A malaria eradication project officer for Gkobal Fund, Wimbadi Sigit, said on Saturday that, “The reason for the high incidence of the disease are the people’s lack of hygiene. Other factors are the Papua’s topography, which is densely forested and swampy, and an even rainfall throughout the province are all conditions in which the anopheles mosquito can multiply.”

The Geneva-based Gkobal Fund has been in Papua since July last year, implementing a malaria eradication program in Biak, Sorong, Yapen and Waropen regencies.

The organization has recruited around 358 members assigned to the four regencies to provide medical treatment and to implement the malaria eradication program.

Wimbadi Sigit expressed concern that despite his organization’s efforts, few people had access to immediate treatment for the disease due to Papua’s vast territory.

He also said that people traveling to Papua should be advised to take malaria tablets beforehand.

A similar concern was expressed by Fatimah Resmiati, the head of the Environment Sanitation Unit of the West Java Health Office. She encouraged anyone planning to visit Sukabumi, Cianjur, Garut, Tasikmalaya and Ciamis regencies to take the malaria tablets chloroquine or primaquine beforehand.

The disease has claimed four lives and infected 461 people in Sukabumi regency so far this year.

Fatimah said that the malaria epidemic had spread not only in Sukabumi regency but to four other regencies. The highest number of cases were observed in Sukabumi and Garut.

“There are two elongated lagoons in the two regencies in the south that are believed to be the breeding places for the anopheles mosquito,” she told reporters in Bandung on Monday.

Some 206 malaria cases have been detected in Cibalong district in Garut regency from January until June, but there have been no deaths reported.

Sumber :  (Nethy Dharma Somba and Yuli Tri Suwarni) The Jakartarta Post, Jayapura/Bandung

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