Mimika focuses on alleviating maternal mortality

Mimika focuses on alleviating maternal mortality rate

The Jakarta Post, Timika
Markus Makur

The Mimika regency administration is focusing on alleviating the maternal mortality rate in their 12 districts through the local health office, in line with the program initiated by the provincial administration to provide good health care for people in rural areas of Papua, be they in the mountainous, hinterland or southern areas of Papua.

The program will be implemented in every regency across the province by sending teams to provide counseling, medical checkups and food supplements for expectant mothers in rural areas.

The health office has posted medical workers in rural areas and in 13 community health clinics in the 12 districts of Mimika.

Medical awareness among pregnant women in Mimika regency remains very low despite the medical services provided by the clinics, so much so that Mimika is often regarded as lacking decent medical services.

Mimika Health Office head Erens Meokbun told reporters in Timika recently that medical workers often encountered obstacles in the field, such as from members of the community who refused to help themselves or those who were unaware of health care issues.

Meokbun said as well as the drive to alleviate the maternal mortality rate by conducting routine medical checkups at the clinics in the 12 districts, the health office would also provide examinations for those infected with tuberculosis, malaria counseling and information on HIV/AIDS mitigation to people in villages.

"The teams from the health office are visiting villages and community health clinics to make the mobile clinic program across Papua a success by focusing on saving the lives of expectant mothers. The teams are currently working to provide medical checkups to pregnant women so their babies can grow and develop healthily," he said.

The Health Ministry has allocated Rp 5 billion (about US$500,000) to pay for the mobile clinics across Papua including using assistance funds from the provincial and regency administrations. The provincial health office has proposed Rp 6 billion in supporting funds from the regency administration's budgetary team in 2010.

Meokbun said his office had distributed Jamkesmas health insurance cards to residents in rural areas. They will be exempted from paying medical bills when getting treatment in government-run hospitals and community health clinics.

When asked by reporters about the finding of malnutrition cases in Far East Mimika district, Meokbun confirmed five children in the Far East Mimika capital of Ayuka were suffering from malnutrition, and were currently being treated by a medical team.

Mimika's medium-term development program (2009-2013), approved by the local legislature a week ago, included a number of development plans, such as improving human resources in Mimika by providing equal access to education in rural areas; realizing free education in state-run, as well as private, schools; and providing good services to the public, such as good health care to the people in the villages.

Mimika Regent Klemen Tinal said his office would exempt students in state-run schools in Mimika from paying school fees throughout the 2009 budget period.

"If there are schools, from elementary to senior high school level, demanding school fees, they should return the money to parents because the government has exempted Papuan students from paying school fees.

"I am very serious about improving education here, by providing education to every Papuan child in the rural areas of Mimika," he said.