Digoel River

 

It was still morning around 7.30 AM when a female doctor along with several medical personnels carried items in cardboard boxes into a motorboat anchored in the dock at the riverside of Digoel River, Papua.

On Thursday, December 7th 2017, dr. Defiana and her team who are part of “Asiki Mobile Clinic Service” took turn to visit people living in the remote area of Papua, where located villages across the riverside of Digoel River, Boven Digoel, and provide healthcare services.

After all of the cardboard boxes consisting of drugs, vitamins, nutritional food supplements, as well as brochures on health topics stacked in the motorboat, the group went straight ahead to take a 3,5 hour trip through the waters of Digoel River heading to Obinangge Village.

The Digoel River—with a downstream located in Arafura Sea—is one of the longest rivers in Indonesia which lengths about 546 km.

The width of the river extends when the rainy season comes and the water would become murky, which is caused by the muddy ground. Meanwhile, during the dry season, the river has clear water.

There are many ferns and other ivy plants growing near the river. In the river, there are freshwater animals such as crocodiles, turtles, and other types of freshwater fishes like carps, mujair fishes (Mozambique tilapia), catfishes, gabus fishes (Channa striata), and turtles.

The river is used for transportation that connects one area to another. This is also because there are two companies located near the river; an oil palm company and a timber company.

To reach Boven Digoel from Jakarta, we must take an 8 hour flight to Mopah International Airport, Merauke, and followed with a 6 hour road trip from this Indonesia’s most eastern city.

Mobile medical service by visiting people is one of the programs run by Asiki Clinic, which is managed by an oil palm company, Korindo Group, as part of its corporate social responsibility program (CSR).

Asiki Clinic, located in Asiki, Jair District, Boven Digoel, aims to reach unprivileged people, particularly the ones living in the remote area or outermost region and the border area between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

According to the Head of Asiki Clinic, Firman Jayawijaya (44), people in big cities can easily access hospitals and receive healthcare service, while in the remote area, those kind of access is very difficult to obtain by people.

Therefore, it is not surprising if in Papua regions, including Boven Digoel, people’s health rate is still low. This is proven by a high mortality rate for mothers in labor, as well as the high mortality rate for infants and children under five years.

According to dr. Firman, there are still many cases of malaria, TBC, and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, Asiki Clinic, which has just been inaugurated and equipped with modern medical equipments, is hoped to be able to bring healthcare service closer to the people.

In addition, the clinic, which has been given award as the best clinic from BPJS, has been able to reduce the mortality rate for mothers in labor, infants, and children under five years, and suppress the rate of people contracted with malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TBC.

Asiki Clinic has 37 medical personnels consisting of five doctors, 12 nurses, two midwives, two dental nurses, and 3 pharmacists, with a dentist and a internal specialist doctor ready to be called.

Built since September 2016 and inaugurated on December 6th 2017, the 1,720 square-meter clinic can now be used according to its function and started to receive patients for check-up and treatments on September 2017.

Considering the limited medical staff, the mobile healthcare service by Asiki Clinic is done twice a month with doctors and medical personnels taking turns, so they can gain experience in providing treatment for people in remote areas.

When the boat carrying the team of doctors and medical personnels arrived in the destination village, people were storming a simple building that turned into check-up location. Men, women, children, teenagers, and even elders living in Obinangge were very enthusiastic to have their health check-up.

People met with the team of mobile medical service to receive check-up and treament for mild sickness—like fever and cough—experienced by their children, pregnancy check-up, babies and children weight measurement, and health consultation or briefing.

For dr. Defiani, a Manadonese, providing healthcare service for people living in remote area is not a burden, especially with youth generation choosing to work in the cities.

“The challenge here is changing people’s mindset on health and healthy living,” said the 28 year old woman.

When one is sick, they would only be treated by their indigenous leader. And if that didn’t make them feel better, only then they would go to the doctor. Futhermore, giving birth in the woods possesses a high risk and is a mindset owned by people living in villages.

The same thing is felt by Asmarullah, the Head of Clinical Service, who is also a part of the medical service team. To him, it is a happiness on its own to be able to dedicate himself for the humanity.

However, the condition of the environment is sometimes difficult, such as the extreme climate that changes instantly from hot weather to heavy rain. On the other hand, they only used an open motorboat. This became a challenge that needs to be conquered.

This 30 year old man from Probolinggo, East Java, also said that often times they had to pass through Digoel River at night, equipped with only a flashlight.

The easy access in receiving healthcare service is one of the basic rights for all of the people in Indonesia. Therefore, the Asiki Mobile Clinic Service that visit people in remote area is an effort must be followed suit by other institutions.

Yosephin, one of the residents in Obinangge who came so her child could receive healthcare service,  hoped that the program can be improved so there would be more people receiving healthcare service.

After 2 hours providing healthcare service for the people in Obinangge Village, dr. Defiana and her team were ready to cross Digoel River heading to other villages to improve health rate of people in remote areas. (ant/SP).

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