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Fighting for environmental health in Jayapura, West Papua during COVID-19

Papua environmental health.

JAYAPURA, Indonesia – It wasn’t even noon yet in Jayapura, but the temperature was already rising, and the air was thick with humidity. Beads of sweat streamed down Indri Sodyah’s face past her red veil as she returned from an activity to disinfect public places in the district.

As Indri shared her story, her voice was calm and almost expressionless, a stark contrast to when she speaks while carrying out her job at the Yapsi health centre. Indri works as an Environmental Health Officer and is responsible for educating the community on how their environment can affect their health. “An unhealthy environment creates unhealthy families,” she frequently tells them.

Yapsi is a rural sub-district in Papua located over 100 kilometres from the centre of the provincial capital Jayapura. In mid-April, fears that the COVID-19 virus had reached the community began to circulate when several residents were classified as “patients under monitoring”, meaning they were required by the government to report to local health agencies if they showed any COVID-19 symptoms.

Although results of a rapid test were negative, the health centre began their work to enable residents to better protect themselves against potential infection. Indri convinced them to stay safe by following recommended safety measures, which included washing hands with soap, using masks and maintaining social distancing.

Indri regularly travels with her colleagues from the health centre to Yapsi to promote these practices. She also coordinates with village heads to build handwashing stations and plan disinfection activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the community.

“We say thank you,” said Bestiana, a local resident who lives in Ongan Jaya village. “The health centre taught us that washing hands with soap will help get rid of COVID”.

For detail please visit UNICEF.

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This Blog has gone through many obstacles and attacks from violent Free West Papua separatist supporters and ultra nationalist Indonesian since 2007. However, it has remained throughout a time devouring thoughts of how to bring peace to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia.

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