Diphtheria deaths in Indonesia spark immunization campaign

A student receives a diphtheria vaccine at a primary school on the first day of a campaign in Tangerang, Indonesia. Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Indonesia began a campaign to immunize 8 million children and teenagers against diphtheria. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Indonesia has begun a campaign to immunize 8 million children and teenagers against diphtheria after the disease killed 38 people, mostly children, since January

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is immunizing millions of children and teenagers against diphtheria after the disease killed 38 people, mostly children, since January.

Children in school uniforms and toddlers clinging to their parents received shots at a high school in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on the first day of the campaign Monday.

Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that can cause breathing difficulties, heart failure and paralysis. It was more or less eradicated in Indonesia in the 1990s but health officials say it has re-emerged in the past four years because immunization rates have dropped, partly reflecting fears about vaccines.

The first stage of the $112 million campaign aims to vaccinate 8 million people under the age of 19 in Jakarta and the populous provinces of Banten and West Java.

The outbreak is "likely due to some people refusing immunization which causes their children's antibodies and resistance to be low," Health Minister Nila Moeloek said after visiting a hospital where more than more than 30 diphtheria patients were being treated.

She said there could be a variety of reasons why increased numbers of parents are refusing immunizations.

The disease disappeared during the three-decade rule of Indonesian dictator Suharto when a family education program sent volunteers such as the wives of government officials into villages where they talked to mothers about nutrition and sanitation and reminded them about national immunization days.

The program was abandoned after Suharto's ouster in 1998, and a subsequent decentralization of government in Indonesia has complicated the work of health officials. Rumors that vaccinations are dangerous and violate Islamic law have also gained currency in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The result, according to Elizabeth Jane Soepardi, who oversees immunization policy at the Ministry of Health, is that immunization rates dropped in some communities.

"I didn't even know about immunization," said Satiyah, a 46-year-old mother of three whose adult son is being treated in an isolation ward for diphtheria after developing fever and nausea.

"None of my children has been immunized since birth," said Satiyah, who goes by one name. She said now that she risks losing her son she will allow her 15-year-old daughter to be immunized.

Related News

Liu breaks world record; Indian teen wins at...

Aug 21, 2018

Liu Xiang broke a backstroke world record that had stood for nine years to win her first gold medal...

Homeward-bound Schooling set for next phase at...

Aug 21, 2018

Singapore's Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling is about to discover how challenging the lap...

Liu breaks 50-meter backstroke world record at...

Aug 21, 2018

Liu Xiang of China has set a world record time of 26.98 seconds to win the women's 50-meter...

Clarkson's Philippines edged by Zhou's China at...

Aug 21, 2018

The addition of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Jordan Clarkson to the lineup wasn't quite enough as...

Hot shot teen Chaudhary wins Asian Games gold for...

Aug 21, 2018

Indian teenager Saurabh Chaudhary has won the men's 10-meter air pistol gold medal at the Asian...

Liu sets world record; Sun and Ikee keep...

Aug 21, 2018

Liu Xiang set her first world record in an event she was only doing for a bit of fun

Match Times
FcTables.com

SukanKini focuses on the nation’s favorite sports and local leagues and the rivalry between our teams with other players across South East Asia and even all over the world.

Contact us: sales[at]sukankini.com