Indonesia: After floods, health crisis emerges, regions struggle

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post 14 Feb 16;

Floods that have submerged a number of regions in Indonesia over the past week have begun to result in major health consequences for local residents, as hundreds in the affected areas report the quick spread of respiratory and other diseases.

In West Sumatra, at least 250 residents within the Pasaman regency reportedly suffer from gastritis, acute respiratory infections (ISPA) and/or skin diseases after heavy downpours brought floods to the Rao and Panti districts, home to more than 2,000 people.

Pasaman Health Agency head Desrizal said on Saturday that all the patients had received treatment at Puskesmas (local community health centers).

“There is a possibility that the diseases have emerged due to shock and anxiety,” he said, adding that the agency had also set up health posts in the affected districts to provide emergency medical aid.

Meanwhile, in South Sumatra, residents of the North Musi Rawas regency have been struggling with the widespread skin diseases that emerged after floods inundated some parts of the region earlier this month.

M. Kosim, who lives in Muara Rupit subdistrict, said he and his family members had been suffering from itchy skin over the past week, adding that, after they began to scratch, red, pus-filled spots had also appeared on their skin.

Kosim claimed that dozens of people in his village were also experiencing a similar condition.

“We have received some medicine from the Puskesmas, but it doesn’t work,” he said on Saturday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

After a prolonged dry season, the rainy season finally arrived in many parts of the country in December and has since intensified.

A series of heavy downpours have subsequently triggered floods in several provinces, including Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Central Java.

In West Sumatra, at least seven people have died over the past week due to floods and landsides triggered by heavy rains.

On Saturday, search and rescue team members in South Solok regency managed to recover the body of a 2-year-old child after a landslide had buried a house in Alam Pauh Duo district the previous Monday, killing the child and five other family members.

In Riau, floods have hit three regencies: Kampar, Rokan Hulu and Kuantan Singingi. Leaders of the three regencies have declared an emergency response status, saying they were overwhelmed with carrying out anticipative measures.

Meanwhile in East Java, floods from the overflowing Kalikemuning River in Sampang had submerged thousands of houses across the regency since Thursday and have killed at least one local resident.

The victim, 14-year-old Faisal Sipli, was swept away by the river’s strong current on Thursday. His body was finally found two days later.

Sampang Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Wisnu Hartono said the flood had been the region’s biggest to date.

“We have experienced some floods in the past, but never this big,” he told Antara.

In Aceh, at least three regencies – East Aceh, North Aceh and Bireun – have been hit by floods triggered by heavy rains and overflowing rivers.

The North Aceh BPBD reported on Saturday that at least 4,000 residents had moved to public facilities, like schools and mosques, or moved to relatives’ houses after floods submerged seven districts in the region.

Meanwhile in Bireuen, Jeunieb district is reported to be the worst-hit area in the regency as it was engulfed by up to 1-meter-high floodwaters.

“Many villagers have fled their homes to stay in the district’s capital so as to avoid the worsening situation,” Jangot Tungko subdistrict bead Apriadi said.

Newly Elected West Sumatra Governor and Deputy Visit Disaster Areas
Antara 14 Feb 16;

Jakarta. Newly elected West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno and his deputy Nasrul Abit on Sunday (14/02) visited South Solok and Limapuluh Kota – two of the province's districts worst affected by the recent floods and landslides.

Heavy rains since Feb. 5 contributed to the floods that have triggered landslides in 10 districts throughout the province last weekend. Pasaman district also suffered heavy damage.

“I am checking on the residents of South Solok, while my deputy [Nasrul] is in Limapuluh Kota. The disasters have cost [financial losses of approximately] Rp 100 billion [$7.4 million]. We are now focusing on how to distribute emergency aid to the affected residents,” Irwan said in the provincial capital Padang on Sunday, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

The aid provided includes instant food, medicine, clothes and children’s necessities such as infant formula.

According to North Sumatra Provincial Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) chief Zulfiatno there are several areas in both South Solok and Pasaman districts that are still inaccessible due to damaged roads. He gave no further details.

“The National Disaster Mitigation Agency [BNPB] therefore sent us a helicopter to help reach these isolated areas by air. Before the chopper arrived, we distributed emergency aid by motorcycle. Based on the temporary data, there are about 8,000 people living in those areas,” Zulfiatno said.

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