Indonesia is considered a hotspot for various diseases, due to factors such as tropical climate, biodiversity and frequent interaction between humans and animals. The CIA World Factbook states that some of the most common diseases in Indonesia, with a “very high” degree of risk, are as follows:
Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, which can spread more quickly in an environment that lacks reliable sanitation or produces garbage regularly. A recent study reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found that more than half of all children in Indonesia’s urban areas were infected with dengue by the age of five, and over 80% of them have been infected with the dengue virus at least once by age 10. Typically, the outbreak of the disease surges every three to four years, with the most recent surge having occurred at the beginning of 2016.
The Indonesian Ministry of Health reported that 71,668 cases of dengue fever were recorded in 2014, with 641 of these cases ending in death. Although the number of cases on the national level seems to be on the decline, the number has been increasing in several areas, including North Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Bali and Jakarta.
Another one of the most common diseases in Indonesia is malaria. While Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and other large cities are relatively free from the risk of malaria, other areas in the country are still vulnerable to the disease. According to the data from the Ministry of Health, malaria is still rampant in the provinces of Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, North Maluku and West Papua. An Indonesian health official from the Maluku province, whose local health department has been carrying out efforts to eradicate the disease, stated that eliminating the disease would require maintaining a healthy environment, killing mosquito larva through fogging, regular blood tests and the use of mosquito nets.
Diarrhea was once a leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Indonesia, accounting for almost 25% of child mortality. Although efforts to combat mortality from the disease have decreased the death rates to approximately 2.5 per 1,000, the incidence of bacteria has remained constant at 25 to 30 million per year in children under the age of five. The fact that the number of outbreaks has not changed much implies the need for more innovative solutions to deal with the disease.
These three are among the most common diseases in Indonesia. Recently, the Indonesian government has been carrying out various policies to achieve the goal of attaining universal water and sanitation access by 2019, which, if successful, could help the country make significant progress in fighting these diseases.
– Minh Joo Yi