Relief Efforts in Indonesia
On September 28th, 2018 Indonesia was hit with a 7.4 magnitude earthquake; three days later and as a consequence of the earthquake, a massive tsunami devastated the Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia. Palu and Donggala were amongst the areas worst hit in the province. On October 21st, 2018, the death toll sat at 2,113 people. In fact, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Nugroho, stated that 1,300 people were reported missing, 223,751 people were displaced from their homes and communities and 4,612 were reported injured. Relief efforts in in Indonesia began almost immediately and are still underway today.

Need for Relief

Fall 2018 wasn’t the first time relief efforts in Indonesia have been needed. Back in 2004, the country faced another devastating tsunami, known famously as the “Boxing Day Tsunami” — the deadliest recorded tsunami in history. Indonesia geographically sits in the “Ring of Fire” — a horseshoe-like basin that sits in the pacific ocean — that is notorious for earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its high tectonic movement. As a result of this proximity, the country faces constant natural threats.

The government of Indonesia has accepted foreign aid in hopes of accelerating recovery and relief efforts. Twenty-six countries have reported to offer help, and different organizations have stepped in as well. Three of which are stated below:

The Australian Council for International Development

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) works closely with the Indonesian government and local partners to mobilize search-and-rescue and medical teams, and provide food, shelter and clean water.

ACFID has also made sure to create safe spaces for children — especially those missing parents and guardians. Keeping in mind the psychological effects of this disaster, the organization has offered psychosocial support to affected inhabitants.

Malteser International

Malteser International aids Indonesia by providing health facilities with medical equipment and medicine. The organization has made emergency funds available to help deliver relief materials.

Malteser International is dedicated to making sure that the affected have access to clean water in order to avoid the spread of disease. Unfortunately, the group finds it challenging to transport clean water to remote areas due to the destruction of roads and infrastructure.

The World Bank

The World Bank — perhaps offering the largest aid — has declared a $1 billion relief fund available to the Indonesian government. Based on scientific, economic and engineering analyses, the World Bank has estimated the physical loss in Sulawesi at $531 million with $181 million of that for residential housing, $185 million for nonresidential and $165 million for infrastructure.

The fund is piloted by a $5 million grant for technical assistance to ensure that the reconstruction is planned out and executed with efficiency and accuracy. It could offer cash transfers to 150,000 of the poorest families affected, which will support the local economy and employment levels during the recovery process.

The relief efforts in Indonesia are extensive, but the donations from these three organizations will go far in helping Indonesia get back on its feet and ensure that the inhabitants impacted by this natural disaster are taken care of safely and effectively.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Pixabay

The Overlooked Issue of HIV Stigma
HIV is known as a widespread and dangerous disease. Discussions of possible solutions often focus on discovering more effective medical treatments. However, an overlooked factor in combating the disease is the stigma associated with HIV.

According to AVERT, in 35 percent of surveyed countries, more than 50 percent of people admitted to having a discriminatory attitude toward people who are HIV-positive.

HIV stigma exists for a number of reasons. Misconceptions about the methods of HIV transmission can lead people to falsely believe HIV-positive people are a direct danger to them. Some believe an HIV diagnosis is the result of immoral action or irresponsibility. And HIV stigma can have not only social consequences but medical consequences for patients as well. For example, on average one in eight people diagnosed with HIV is denied healthcare resources. Such findings are disturbing, considering that health care providers should be treating and reducing cases of HIV.

In an attempt to dodge the stigma , patients sometimes refuse HIV and tuberculosis testing for fear of positive results. Because an HIV diagnosis correlates to a greater risk of contracting tuberculosis, this stigma leads not only to reduced diagnoses of HIV but also to reduced diagnoses of tuberculosis. In 2015, one-third of HIV-related deaths were a result of tuberculosis.

Solutions to combat HIV stigma include educating the public and conducting awareness training for healthcare workers. Organizations such as Malteser International are training individuals to provide support to those in their communities who are HIV-positive. Lydiah Litunya, a Kenyan woman and HIV patient, used to try to hide her diagnosis to avoid HIV stigma. She managed to get treatment and after being trained by Malteser International, she dedicated herself to helping other HIV patients and reducing the stigma surrounding HIV. This kind of vocal advocacy is exactly what HIV patients around the globe need.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Flickr