Papua is one of Indonesia's poorest provinces despite being rich in resources and President Joko Widodo pledged to speed its development when he came to power in 2014.
‘Indonesia is deploying military paramedics to carry food and vaccines to a remote part of its easternmost province of Papua to battle the measles outbreak.’
Indonesian health authorities are struggling to battle the measles outbreak due to a lack of access to remote areas, insufficient personnel and the high mobility of villagers hampered treatment and vaccination efforts.
The measles outbreak, which began in Sep 2017, has affected 568 people and hospitalized 175. Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. The measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Catholic priest and rights activist John Jonga, blamed the crisis on a lack of vaccinations and a switch from more nutritious tubers to rice as a staple food.
He said he had voiced questions over Widodo's policy of sending aid to Palestine and Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority, rather than to Papua at a recent seminar at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences in Jakarta, the capital.
"We are lacking health facilities," Jonga said. "That's why in the seminar I asked why the president was busy with Myanmar and building a hospital in Gaza. Whereas in Papua, we have problems, difficulties with drugs and medical workers."