Papua (red) Indonesia
ProMed Mail has picked up a report (see 25 Nov 2015 Undiagnosed illness - Indonesia: (PA) fatal, children, RFI) in the Jakarta Post, dated yesterday, indicating there has been sudden and unexplained rash of child deaths in Indonesia’s easternmost province; Papua.
As of yesterday’s report, 41 children had died, along with some number of local pigs and chickens.
As we’ve discussed often in the past, `Mystery’ diseases usually turn out to be far less mysterious once medical teams arrive and can begin testing. Additionally, child mortality remains very high in Papua (see media report Unicef: Child Mortality Papua Three Times Higher than Jakarta), from a variety of non-exotic causes.
But given the sudden onset, the apparent high mortality among children under 7, and the (possibly coincidental) die off of livestock, this is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Three reports. First, this from the Jakarta Post via ReliefWeb.
from Jakarta Post
Published on 24 Nov 2015 — View Original
A large number of children, many below the age of seven, have died of an unexplained disease in Mbuwa district, Nduga regency, Papua, following the start of the rainy season in early November.
A medical team consisting of health workers from Nduga, Wamena and Jayawijaya regencies arrived at the location but have yet to ascertain the cause of the deaths.
“As many as 41 children have died, as of today. They present with a slight illness at first but die shortly after these initial signs. The medical team from Nduga Health Office, assisted by the Wamena Health Office may have returned home, but the cause of these deaths remains uncertain,” said Mbuwa district chief Erias Gwijangge, during a call to The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Erias said Nduga and surrounding areas had experienced drought and were exposed to haze from forest fires. Rain only fell in the past month. When the rain began, a number of livestock, such as pigs and poultry, also died abruptly.
I find no mention of this outbreak on the Indonesian Ministry of Health websites, but the Indonesian press and twitter (Hashtag `Kematian anak papua’ or `Papua Child Deaths’) is driving a lot of traffic on the story. Symptoms appear to be primarily fever and respiratory distress.
Today, at least based on one local media report, the number of fatalities has grown to 56. This from Berita Satu.com.
Rabu, 25 November 2015 | 12:07
Papua Provincial Health Director, Aloysius Giyai. (SP / Robert Vanwi)
Jayapura - The number of children who died from a mysterious disease in the District Mbuwa, nduga regency, Papua Province, increasing from 41 to 56 people. It was announced by the Chief District Mbuwa, Erias Gwijangga, Wednesday (25/11).
"Children who die under the age of seven years. Drugs gone. Medics at Mbuwa today seven people from the Department of Health Nduga," he said.
In such cases, the Provincial Health Director Papua, Aloysius Giyai, said he only heard of the incident three days ago.
"There was no report at all, even regents Nduga confirmation that we are also claimed to have received the report. But from the reports we have, there are 31 children who died, "said Giyai after the opening of a working meeting regional health Papua Province and the launch of his book Against Storm Extinction breakthrough-breakthrough Papua Healthy Towards Papua Risen, Mandiri Sejahtera at the Auditorium of Cendrawasih University, city of Jayapura , Papua, on Tuesday (24/11) afternoon.
Papua Provincial Health Office, he added, has deployed a team to the area. The team led by Section Chief and Disaster Outbreak Papua Provincial Health Office, Yamamoto Sasarari, joint head of PMK, a doctor Wopari Berry, who assisted the general practitioner, a pediatrician, nurses, laboratory personnel, and personnel survailance.
"The team will find out what the causes of child mortality and also to find a solution. Therefore, we can not tell the cause of death of children. There must be a field, looking for the cause, "he said.
And lastly this report from the Suara Pembaruan, which describes the lack of medical care available in the Papau, and also mentions the updated number of 56 deaths.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | 7:48
Papuan children in Biak. [SP / Jeis Montesori Kafiar]
[JAYAPURA] Pathetic. A total of 41 children under the age of seven years meninnggal the mysterious world throughout November 2015 in the District Mbuwa, nduga regency, Papua.
No medical help to save their lives. The local Health Department reasoned geographical problems and understaffed making them difficult to reach Papuans who mostly live in the interior.
Ironically, Chief Medical Officer of the Province of Papua, Aloysius Giyai admitted three days ago received a report related to the incident.
"There was no report at all, even Regent Nduga confirmation that we are also claimed to have received the report. But from the reports we have, there are 31 children who died, "said Giyai after opening Working Meeting of the Regional Health Papua Province and the launch of his book titled" Against the Storm Extinction breakthrough-breakthrough Papua Healthy Towards Papua Risen, Mandiri Sejahtera "at the auditorium of the University of Cendrawasih, Jayapura, Papua, on Tuesday (24/11) afternoon.