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Health Problems Hit Indonesia Flood Victims

A boy searches and finds pencils from the debris of his house devastated by week-long flooding in Jakarta, 12 February 2007. The military and aid groups were busy helping residents to clean up after floods which inundated at least three Indonesian provinces including the capital Jakarta for more than a week and claimed at least 85 lives, officials said. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Feb 12, 2007
More than 1,100 flood victims have been treated for respiratory problems and diarrhoea in Indonesia, where crowded hospitals are bracing for an influx of patients, officials said Monday. The capital Jakarta was hit by widespread floods early in the month, with deep waters submerging a large part of the capital and forcing hundreds of thousands to abandon their inundated homes.

Health ministry spokeswoman Lily Sulistyowati said there had been 637 cases of respiratory ailments and 498 of diarrhoea due to the floods.

Four people had also been infected with leptospirosis, a bacterial disease transmitted through contact with water contaminated by the urine of infected rats.

More than 328,000 people remained displaced, Sulistyowati said in a press release.

Jakarta Health Office spokeswoman Tini Suryanti said most of the diarrhoea patients were children and infants. Koja hospital was already overcrowded, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said.

"Even last night, Koja hospital was already facing a shortage of doctors, nurses and some 200 beds," Supari said before attending a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.

She said the spread of diarrhoea could be curbed if people "cleaned up fast," after the floodwaters had receded.

"All medical services are now free," for flood victims, she added.

Supari said her ministry was anticipating a rapid increase in the number of flood victims seeking medical treatment.

"Hospitals are now already overloaded... there is no shortage of medicine but it is just that we are facing a shortage of hospital capacity," Supari said.

The health ministry was preparing emergency tents and field hospitals as well as hundreds of campbeds to send to any hospital which needed them.

"Hospitals are not allowed to refuse patients," the minister said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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