At a glance: Indonesia

Immunization drive for flood-affected children in Jakarta, Indonesia

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Moran
A child is vaccinated against measles during an immunization campaign in Jakarta, Indonesia.

By Arie Rukmantara and Suzanna Dayne

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 21 February 2007 – Upon hearing that a free immunization drive was under way, Linda, 27, a mother of two, did not think twice before bringing her young daughters to an emergency health centre in central Jakarta.

“When I heard the announcement from the loudspeaker at the local mosque, I instantly decided to take my children there,” she said. “Our home was inundated with dirty floodwater and I was worried my kids would get sick. That’s why I came.”

The floods that struck Jakarta and surrounding districts earlier this month not only caused massive displacement but also put more than 700,000 children at risk of contracting deadly diseases.

In response, UNICEF and the Indonesian Government jumpstarted an immunization campaign, during which doctors, nurses and other health workers have gone door-to-door to vaccinate children against measles and polio. The children are also given vitamin A supplements to help boost their immunity.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Moran
After getting her two daughters inoculated against measles and polio, Linda, a 27-year-old Indonesian mother, receives tetanus vaccine for herself.

Drive to immunize 15 million

“Although we have provided medical services since the first day floods hit this area, an immunization drive is very much needed to minimize the risk of disease outbreaks,” said the head of a Jakarta community health centre, Dr. Kingma Widjaja.

Linda’s seven-month-old baby, Varel, was one of the first to take part in the campaign. The rest of the island of Java (where Jakarta is located) launches its immunization drive later this month with the aim of protecting more than 15 million children from measles.

The disease is one of the most preventable in the world, and despite dramatic progress in recent years it still claims the lives of some 345,000 children annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Moran
A health worker immunizes a toddler against polio during a vaccination drive for young flood victims in central Jakarta.

Measles Initiative raises awareness

“There is a global strategy on measles reduction,” said UNICEF Indonesia Health Officer Dr. Wibowo. He added that WHO, UNICEF, the American Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Control and the United Nations Foundation – among other partners in the worldwide Measles Initiative – collaborate in support of this strategy in 47 countries, including Indonesia.

Their goal is an ambitious one: to cut measles deaths by 90 per cent by 2010.

“We produce public service announcements, educational materials and work closely with the media to raise awareness of the issue, said Dr. Wibowo. “The work is crucial, since many local residents are not aware of the dangers of measles, polio and other preventable diseases.”


 

 

Video

21 February 2007:
UNICEF’s Suzanna Dayne reports on a measles immunization drive to protect children affected by recent floods in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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