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18 Nduga displaced residents in Jayawijaya die after being denied healthcare access

Tabloid JUBI - January 25, 2021

Jayapura, Jubi – Since Dec. 24 last year, 18 Nduga residents who had been taking refuge in Jayawijaya regency in Indonesia's Papua had died after being denied access to healthcare, a volunteer reported.

The volunteer, Raga Kogeya, said that there were occasions when two to three people die in a day. "Those were residents who seek refuge in Jayawijaya alone. I don't know about those who take shelters in other places. Today, there are two people in critical condition," Raga Kogeya told Jubi on Jan. 20 in a phone interview.

He said most of the 18 died because of various illnesses. "Some had fever, some had nosebleed. Others experienced convulsion, red blotches on their skin, and other symptoms," he said. Raga said some was ill for two to three months but they never received any medical treatment.

The 18 people were the latest death toll during the ordeal Nduga residents had to endure following a violent conflict in their regency. Since 2018 to late 2020, there were about 400 people died in various locations in Jayawijaya Regency alone. In ate 2019, the last time the volunteers took the displaced people data, they reported about 8,000 Nduga residents took shelter in Jayawijaya in Papua province.

Raga said the volunteers could not do much to treat the sick ones. The displaced people and the volunteers did not have enough money to pay for the medical bills while the hospital refused to give them free medical treatment because the patients did not have any documentation from the government like ID and family card.

Such technicalities could have been solved if Nduga Regency administration made an agreement with Jayawijaya Regency administration to let Nduga residents, who had been on the run for months due to violence in their regency, got treatment in Jayawijaya general hospitals without paying.

In response to the report, the head of Health Agency at Jayawijaya Regency, dr. Willy E. Mambieuw, suggested that Nduga administration make a memorandum of understanding with Jayawijaya to allow Nduga residents to get free treatment despite their documentation.

Mambieuw said Jayawijaya could not give free treatment without any legal basis because they would have to make their financial reports accountable.

He said one of the requirements to get free treatment at public hospitals in Jayawijaya was to have a Jayawijaya ID card. Those from outside Jayawijaya could get free treatment if they could show that they were recipients of the health care system benefits run by Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS).

"I don't want to overstep my counterparts in Nduga Regency. But I suggest they make an MoU with Jayawijaya, so we would have a legal basis," he said on Jan. 21.

He said Jayawijaya made such an MoU with Lanny Jaya Regency so Lanny Jaya residents in Jayawijaya could access healthcare there. The regental administration funded the program, he said. "Maybe they used special autonomy fund or other allocations," he went on.

He suggested that Nduga Regency administration to make sure all Nduga residents in Jayawijaya to get the universal healthcare from BPJS.

Tens of thousands Nduga residents fled their homes in 2018 following an armed conflict in the region. In August 2019 Nduga Solidarity Civil Society Coalition released a report on the condition of the displaced people, claiming that many people died while on the run due to hunger and the absence of healthcare.

Nduga Regent Yarius Gwijangge died in November last year after being treated in a Jakarta hospital. Earlier in December 2019, his deputy, Wentius Nemiangge, resigned from his post following the death of his aide and his private driver, Henrik Lobere. Wentius said in his resignation speech in Nduga that he was disappointed that the central government in Jakarta did not do enough to resolve armed conflicts in the regency.

Nduga Regency's official website, however, posted on Jan. 20 that Nduga Legislative Council planned to hold a meeting to promote Wentius to become the regent. According to the posting, Wentius delivered a speech, saying that he was ready to continue the late regent's vision for the regency.

Source: https://en.jubi.co.id/papua-18-nduga-residents-die-denied-health-access