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Covid challenges in Papua: Some believe it's the work of evil spirits

Tempo - September 24, 2021

Friski Riana, Jakarta – The Indonesian Epidemiologists Association (PAEI) of Papua revealed a number of challenges faced in mitigating Covid-19 situations in Papua from various aspects. One of those aspects is culture.

"Many people still believe that disease is the work of evil spirits," PAEI chairman Hasmi said in an online discussion on Friday, September 24, 2021.

Hasmi said that the belief makes it difficult for many Papuans to accept the facts that Covid-19 exists, and the virus causing it transmits through the respiratory tract. This has also led to people's reluctance to follow health protocols and get vaccinated.

Another challenge is the fact that many religious leaders and public figures believe in hoaxes. Hasmi said that 23 churches have united to declare their denial of Covid-19. They also symbolically burned masks.

"When religious leaders deny it, it is almost certain that their congregations would refuse to implement health protocol and refuse vaccines," Hasmi remarked.

Based on the Government Agency Performance Report (LKjIP), Hasmi said, Papuans also have a very low level of hygiene and healthy living behavior with just 45 percent. This means more than half are living unhealthy, unsanitary lives.

In terms of logistics, Hasmi said that the PCR testing equipment in Papua often breaks down, and it takes a long time for them to be repaired. Additionally, the TCM tool sometimes runs out of cartridges needed to detect Covid-19.

What makes things worse, Hasmi said, is that Papua does not have enough health workers. The medics who conduct tracing and administer vaccines are limited in number, some are forced to do more than one job.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1510037/covid-challenges-in-papua-some-believe-its-the-work-of-evil-spirit