Measles kills dozens of children in Indonesia's Papua

JAYAPURA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities are struggling to contain a months-long outbreak of measles in easternmost Papua province that has killed dozens of children.

Stefanus Lange, a doctor at a state-run hospital in Papua's Asmat district, said Tuesday that cases were first detected in September, but a lack of access to remote areas, insufficient personnel and the high mobility of villagers hampered treatment and vaccination efforts.

Lange said 36 victims died in Pulau Tiga sub-district and 22 died in Agats, the main town and capital of Asmat district. He did not rule out the possibility of a higher number of victims since reports have not been received from some sub-districts.

Papua and neighboring West Papua are the poorest provinces in Indonesia and home to a decades-old independence movement and armed insurgency. The region is culturally and ethnically distinct form the rest of Indonesia, which annexed it in the early 1960s.

Data from hospitals showed a total of 568 people had been treated for measles since September and 175 required hospitalization.

The data also showed that one child died in Pulau Tiga of malnutrition, which has plagued some villages in the district.

A team of more than 50 doctors and paramedics from the Indonesian military arrived Tuesday in the province to help overcome the disease.

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