Thursday, September 20, 2018

1) Papuan vaccination shortfalls linked to government failure

2) Indonesian president signs 3-year freeze on new oil palm licenses

1) Papuan vaccination shortfalls linked to government failure 

7:46 pm on 20 September 2018 

A lack of vaccination in West Papuan communities has been linked to failures by Indonesia's health workers.
Recent Indonesian media reportssay Papuan parents in regions such as Tolikara are refusing to let their children be immunised, fearing that measles-rubella and polio vaccinations will cause disabilities or illnesses.
But an anthropologist at Australia's Deakin University with extensive Papua experience, Eben Kirksey, said there was widespread awareness in Papua of the role of vaccines in protecting children. The problem, he said, was often that health workers weren't doing their job to immunise children in rural communities.
He said while in Papua in April he attended a community meeting in Tigi Barat district of Deiyai regency where 85 infants reportedly died of measles.
"All these people came together to make sense of this mass death that had happened the previous year, this involved again parents of the dead children, their extended family, church leaders, local government officials.

"They all told me their stories about their frustration in getting the government health service to do their job."
It had been over three years since this area had been covered by an immunisation programme. Families of children who died in the outbreak combined with others to run a concerted lobbying campaign at the local and provincial levels to try and get the immunisation campaign started.
"So at the point of my visit in April, it still hadn't happened," Dr Kirksey explained.
"Measles is a very cheap vaccine, and the parents knew this. They'd started to do their homework afer this epidemic and this outbreak. So they were basically just demanding that government roll out this programme."
The head of the Department of Health for Papua province, Aloysius Giyai, conveyed his frustrations with the local officials to Dr Kirksey.
"So in absense of these lower level officials, who were not implementing this province-wide programme, he (Giyai) has developed his own programme. It's called the Barefoot Doctor Programme," Dr Kirksey said.
"He's got a small team of medics that basically fly in to remote areas to deliver vaccines to respond to outbreaks... do the job that local officials were not doing.”

He said bureaucratic complexities and lack of transportation infrastructure were factors hindering health workers from being getting to rural areas to immunise Papuan children.
He conceded that another factor was probably a widespread distrust of the Indonesian government among Papuans.
"And this isn't just because of deaths that are happening in the realm of health. So in just this one area that I've been talking about, Mee Pago, there have been twenty-nine extra-judicial killings by Indonesian security forces since the year 2000.
"So people have a widespread distrust. But I think in general, the people I've met in the past couple of years are really keen to get their kids protected from these diseases.
"I've seen quite the opposite of what's being reported in the media, that parents are very keen to get their kids vaccinated, and engaged in this long campaign of advocacy and activism, just trying to get government to do their job."
Indonesia's health officials have in the past few months intensified efforts to distributemeasles, mumps and rubella vaccines in Papua's Asmat regency.
This was in response to a deadly measles outbreak in Asmat which reportedly killed 72 children. However measles is just one of a number of diseases that are contributing to Papua region's parlous infant mortality rate.
Mr Giyai and other health officials have been co-ordinating with counterpartsin neighbouring Papua New Guinea to prevent the spread of polio, which there is currently an outbreak of in PNG, across the border.

    2) Indonesian president signs 3-year freeze on new oil palm licenses
    by on 20 September 2018
    • The moratorium has been in the works for a long time. President Jokowi first announced it more than two years ago, in the wake of the 2015 Southeast Asian haze crisis.
    • The moratorium will remain in place for three years. Environmentalists had called for there to be no limit on its duration.
    • The policy also mandates as sweeping review of oil palm licenses across the country.
    Indonesian President Joko Widodo has signed a moratorium on new licenses for oil palm plantations.
    The presidential instruction, signed on Sept. 19, will remain in place for no more than three years, according to the policy document, seen by Mongabay.
    Environmentalists previously called on Jokowi to impose no limit on the duration of the moratorium, arguingit should remain in place until it achieves its goals.
    The policy appears to constitute a freeze on the entire licensing process for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil, a ubiquitous commodity found in everything from chocolate to laundry detergent.
    It explicitly applies not just to new requests for licenses but also to projects that have obtained some but not all of the permits needed to begin operating.
    The signing of the policy comes more than two years after President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, declared he would impose it.
    Jokowi made the announcement in the wake of the 2015 fire and haze crisis, in which vast stretches of swampy peatland that had been drained and dried by the plantation sector burned for months, blanketing Indonesia and its neighbors in choking haze.
    In the past two years, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry has released several tracts of land from the country’s “forest zone” to oil palm companies. Most recently, dozens of square kilometers were handedto PT Sawit Makmur Abadi, a plantation company operating in the Nabire district of Papua province that has been linked to current and former senior police officials.
    At the same time, the land released for oil palm under the current administration pales in comparison to the enormous area that was rezoned during the tenure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who served from 2004-2014.
    The policy constitutes not just a freeze on new licenses, but an order for the relevant central government ministries and regional governments to conduct a massive review of oil palm licensing data.
    The review is to be presided over by the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, which is supposed to report to the president every six months on the progress of the initiative.
    The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s largest environmental NGO, welcomed the issuance of the moratorium but suggested the president should have signed it much earlier.
    Ideally, Walhi said in a statement, the moratorium would stay in place for 25 years, because “environmental recovery takes a long time.”
    Indonesia has one of the world’s highest deforestation rates, in large part due to uncontrolled expansion by the plantation industry. This has made the country of 250 million people a top greenhouse gas emitter.
    Corruption in the issuance of licenses for plantations is rife. Mines too; Indonesia is a top coal producer. When the president announced the moratorium on new oil palm licenses two years ago, he also said he would impose a moratorium on new coal mines, but this has yet to be implemented.
    Christian Purba, chairman of the executive board of Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), an NGO, called the issuance of the moratorium a “good step,” although he thought it was lacking in some respects.
    One of these is law enforcement, he said. The policy makes no mention of Indonesia’s anti-graft agency or the police.
    “However, the moratorium as a presidential instruction will serve as a legal basis for rejecting any applications for new licenses from palm oil companies,” he told Mongabay.
    Christian called for data gathered under the permit review to be made available for public review. FWI is currently fighting the agrarian ministry over a Supreme Court order for it to release right-to-cultivate permits for plantation and farming businesses, known as HGUs, something the ministry has refused to do.
    A PDF of the order enshrining the moratorium can be downloaded here.
    Banner: A Bornean orangutan. The critically endangered species is being driven to extinction as the forests of Borneo are cleared by humans. 
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