29 Jul 2008

Diarrhoea kills 156 in Indonesian Papua

8:55 pm on 29 July 2008

A diarrhoea outbreak in a remote area of Indonesia's province of Papua has reportedly killed at least 156 people and sickened hundreds of others.

Local church leaders fear the toll will rise because of limited drugs and medical personnel and the possibility the outbreak would spread to other areas.

Benny Giay of the Synod of Protestant Churches Denominations said the epidemic has affected 19 villages in the districts of Dogiyai and Paniai in the remote Kamuu Valley since early April.

But the local government has reportedly done little to bring it under control.

Mr Giay told The Jakarta Post that the churches have deployed medical teams to affected villages but they did not have sufficient personnel or drugs.

Brother Budi Hermawan of the Jayapura Archdiocese said three medical teams have been dispatched but could not cover all of the large, remote area.

He says the situation in the two districts is an emergency, and warns that if the epidemics are not contained immediately, they will claim thousands of lives.