1) Health crisis highlights devastation of traditional Papuan diet
about 1 hour ago
Military personnel deployed to the Papua district of Asmat in response to measles outbreak January 2018 Photo: Supplied/ Jane Soepardi
An Indonesia-based human rights researcher says malnutrition is widespread throughout Papua as imported foods have shattered traditional diets.
West Papuans had long lived off traditional Melanesian staple foods such as sago, sweet potato and traditional pork, but these had been increasingly replaced by rice and instant noodles.
This comes as Indonesian health officials responded to a health crisis in Papua province's Asmat district where a deadly outbreak of measles had been exacerbated by malnutrition.
Papuan police last week said there were more than 10,000 malnourished people in Asmat.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said he has travelled throughout the region over the past two decades and seen the diets change for the worse.
"I see it all over Papua, not only in Asmat," he said.
"Their staple diet changed dramatically. Nowadays I see them consuming rice. Why? Rice is coming from their national government as their main diet."
Mr Harsono said that in Asmat people were also consuming less of the traditional sago as land was being used up for palm oil and mining.
He said he used to see a lot of sweet potato in Wamena in the Highlands, but rice was now more plentiful there too.
Meanwhile, government and military health teams vaccinating against a range of diseases had been dispatched to the district of Asmat after a measles outbreak which has killed at least 60 local children.
An Indonesian health official with one of the teams Jane Soepardi told RNZ Pacific many of the children she visited last week had zero immunity.
Mr Harsono said the government had been quite speedy in getting to affected areas but that the death toll underscored Jakarta's neglect of Papuans' basic health rights.
According to him, Indonesia's belated vaccination drive in Papua was not a long-term solution to health problems in Papua.
"The question is without a programme and routine vaccinations, continued vaccinations, what will happen next year, what will happen two years from now?" he said.
"I'm afraid that without a change of the government approach in the area in Papua, it is going to be repeated again."
Andreas Harsono said restrictions on access to Papua should be lifted so it could receive international assistance.
2) Malnutrition in Papua, Home Affairs Ministry Evaluates DAU
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Director-General Regional Development of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Diah Indrajati, promised to evaluate the special-autonomy implementation in Papua Province because there are hundreds of malnourished patients in Asmat District.
The general allocation fund (DAU) is allocated annually for the development. Papua Province and West Papua receive two percent of total DAU annually and are valid for 20 years.
Of the two percent, 70 percent is for Papua Province and 30 percent for West Papua. Both regions receive DAU because they are the regions that fully authorized to govern. Besides Papua Province, Aceh Province and Yogyakarta are also the special-autonomy regions.
Papua Province and West Papua are also provided with additional infrastructure funding. The fund is provided for all regions so it will accessible by land, air, sea, for the next 25 years.
DAU is prioritized for education and health. DAU in Papua and West Papua is always increasing year by year from 2002 to 2018. For 2018, Papua Province received DAU Rp22.45 trillion and West Papua Rp8.02 trillion from the total DAU Rp61.67 trillion.
Diah regretted that there is still malnutrition happened in Papua, especially in Agats District, Asmat. "That means something has not gone right.”