Sentani, Jubi – As many as 11 children are still being treated at the Ilaga Regional General Hospital in Puncak Regency for measles. Puncak Regent Willem Wandik said the measles transmission in Puncak had reached the status of an Extraordinary Event, and asked his staff to prevent wider transmission.
During a visit to Ilaga Hospital on Thursday, March 2, 2023, Wandik was accompanied by the Head of the Puncak Health Office, Demus Wonda, and the President Director of Ilaga Hospital, Elpina Kogoya. Wandik asked Wonda to take serious steps in preventing wider transmission.
"Earlier I checked the hospital, and checked the condition of the patients, how many patients, and how to handle them. This is already an Extraordinary Event, so there needs to be serious handling. The Health Office has formed a team to handle the case," Wandik said through a written statement received by Jubi on Saturday, March 4, 2023.
Demus Wonda said measles cases were initially found in Beoga District, one of the districts directly adjacent to Intan Jaya Regency.
"The patients received medical treatment at the Beoga Community Health Center, and have recovered. Then there were four other cases treated at the Ilaga Community Health Center. They came from areas on the outskirts of Ilaga and they have been treated and recovered. Until now, 11 cases have been handled by Ilaga Hospital, and three of them have recovered, and eight are still being treated," said Wonda.
Wonda said his office followed the Puncak Regent's direction and formed a team that would go to the eight main districts to disseminate how to handle measles cases. Due to the security situation in Puncak, which is prone to armed conflict, the Health Office requested the help of the Church to announce the readiness of every health center in Puncak to provide immunization or treat measles patients.
"We have prepared logistics and supporting facilities to help officers vaccinate and treat patients if measles cases are found in the field. They are ready, including to conduct dissemination to the community," he added.
Wonda said measles cases did not only appear in Puncak, but were also found in Nabire, Deiyai, Dogiyai, Puncak Jaya, Mimika, and Intan Jaya. Wonda admitted that immunization in Puncak has not been running smoothly since 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the escalation of armed conflict in Puncak has also hampered the movement of medical personnel to actively visit immunization targets.
"The outbreak occurred because many mothers were unable to get vaccinations from pregnancy to childbirth. They should have been fully vaccinated, especially during the month of immunization for school children program. [If they had been vaccinated, they would have been protected from measles," Wonda said. (*)