Churches in Paniai Reject Circumcision to prevent HIV/AIDS – West Papua No.1 News Portal
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Churches in Paniai Reject Circumcision to prevent HIV/AIDS

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Jayapura, Jubi – The Churches and residents of Paniai Regency, Papua remain opposed the idea of circumcision by health authorities.

Ilustration - Supplied

Ilustration – Supplied

“We have conducted a campaign on circumcision in Paniai, however, churches except for the Kingmi Church and Catholic Church rejected the invitation,” said Medical Services Chief of Paniai Public Hospital, Febur Mote in Jayapura on Wednesday (25/11/2015).

According to him, while receiving the invitation letter, some Kemah Injil Church authorities instantly ripped it with the thought what had created properly by God shall not be changed, by God properly shall not be changed.

“In fact we gave this suggestion merely as prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other infectious deceases,” Mote said.

He further said not only the churches but also the Paniai residents also reject and do not want to accept the invitation to do circumcision. The hospital authority has conducted a campain on circumcision, but changing their habit is a difficult challenge. People refused it for many reasons, in particular religious factor.

They thought the circumcision is the practice of Islam, while Christians do not practice it.

“It is difficult for us in the Paniai Hospital to change their understanding and habit, to change their mindset,” he said. But, he added, the hospital continues to conduct socialization to the level of local government’s offices, churches and schools in Paniai.

“Based on our recent activities, eventually there is 67 people accept and has been doing circumcision, most people reject it,” he said. (*/rom)

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Children in Nduga threated not have access to the Polio vaccine

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Illustration of vaccination held in the central highlands of Papua. – Jubi/Islami

Nduga, Jubi – The proportion of the implementation of PIN (National Immunisation Program) for Polio in Nduga Regency is the lowest in the entire of Papua Province. The recent conflict in Nduga might worriedly cause many children to obtain the polio vaccine. Until 13 June 2019, the Provincial Health Office recorded that the proportion of polio vaccination in this regency is still 0,18 per cent.

Togu Sihombing from the Provincial Health Office of Papua said the absence of health workers following the conflict occurred in recent months in Nduga Regency has become the main problem of this issue. “Immunisation and health office staffs in Nduga Regency are not there. So, the vaccination program did not work,” he said in Jayapura on Thursday, 13 June 2019.

To address this issue, he said the Health Office of Papua Province has communicated with the Head of Nduga Health Office to conduct the immunisation program and ask the Regent to guarantee the safety of health workers in the field during the implementation of the program.

Moreover, Sihombing explains that children under 0-15 years old from Nduga Regency who fled to Wamena and Lanny Jaya have obtained Polio vaccine. They represent 0.18 % of program achievement, whereas those who live in Nduga Regency have not yet got the Polio Vaccine.

“Health workers from the Provincial Health Office want to come to Nduga, but it is not possible now because of the security reason,” he said.

Concerning the current situation in Nduga, TPKP Rimba Papua sent an open letter to UNICEF, Health Office and other relevant stakeholders to concern about it. In its letter, TKP Rimba Papua said that women and children in the military conflict area of Nduga Regency experience a crisis of health. “The most critical case occurred in some districts of Drakma, Dal, Mobil Yalma, Gigi, Inigyal and surrounding areas,” wrote this organisation on 14 June 2019.

Moreover, the organisation asked the Health Office to take action and urged the UNICEF to not being fearful of the security and safety to work on the ground because it has a safety guard guarantee from the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Head of Nduga Health Office, Ina Gwijangge, explains that they have not implemented the immunisation program because of the bad weather and flight schedule. “We have contacted a provider to rent a chopper for conducting the health services, but we cannot execute it due to the bad weather. It has been raining for weeks recently, so we cannot do the service,” she told Jubi via short message service on Tuesday, 18 June 2019.

Also, she admitted that the health officials face difficulty to reach many residents who fled in the forest and other neighbouring regencies. Related to the lowest proportion of polio vaccination in this regency, she said she has communicated with the Provincial Health Office of Papua and asked PT Freeport Indonesia to provide helicopter.

“However, the company sent a letter refusing our request. They said it relates to the weather in the rainy season. Air mobilisation is not possible to conduct,” she said. (*)

Reporter: David Sobolim & Islami Adi Subrata
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Treatment Reactions hampering the Eradication of Leprosy in Papua

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Illustrated – Supplied

Jayapura, Jubi — Leprosy was mostly wiped out in Indonesia two decades ago, but because it remains prevalent in some far-flung regions, the archipelago nation ranks third in cases of the disease after India and Brazil.

In remote villages in Papua and West Papua provinces, the Indonesian government’s efforts to combat the disease have been hampered by life-threatening adverse reactions to a World Health Organization-recommended anti-leprosy medication called Dapsone. The reactions pose such a risk that some doctors have stopped administering the drug altogether.

Enter genetic testing startup Nalagenetics, which was founded in 2016 by a team of scientists from Indonesia and Singapore.

The company sees a crucial role for itself in addressing such public health problems. The startup collaborates with the Genome Institute of Singapore to develop pharmacogenomic testing — finding out how a person’s genes affect their bodies’ response to medicines —  with the aim of reducing adverse drug reactions and increasing prescription efficacy. This is carried out through the use of reagents and analytical software that the team develops under the intellectual property collaboration.

Last year, Nalagenetics won its first major contract from the Indonesian health ministry to distribute 1,000 genetic test kits in five villages in Papua and West Papua. It found that 20% of leprosy patients there carry the gene responsible for potentially fatal reactions to Dapsone. This discovery has helped doctors decide which patients can be safely treated with the antibiotic.

“What we told doctors is, ‘If you test these patients first, and you know which drugs work for whom, you can actually give the right drug to the right people,'” Nalagenetics chief exeuctive co-founder Levana Sani told the Nikkei Asian Review in her co-working space in Jakarta. The Singapore-based startup sees Indonesia as its main target market.

“I think that idea resonated a lot with the [Indonesian] government because the government cares about leprosy patients. They want to solve this problem,” she added.

Nalagenetics received $1 million in a pre-seed funding round last November from Southeast Asia- and Japan-focused fund East Ventures, Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures and some angel investors.

Levi, as Sani preferred to be called, said Nalagenetics had not immediately thought of accessing venture capital funding as it had been receiving science grants, including one from Singapore’s science and research agency, A*STAR, dedicated to scientists turning their research work into business ventures. The startup has received 500,000 Singapore dollars ($366,000) in total grants.

Indeed, Nalagenetics was born out of a science lab: the Genome Institute of Singapore, where Levi met three senior colleagues who later became her co-founders. This happened during her internship at the institute, after the Indonesian native earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Southern California and before her two-year study at the Harvard Business School.

“[My co-founders] were like, OK, we really want to create a company because we think we can do more than just publishing papers,” Levi said.

She started taking care of Nalagenetics full time upon her return from the U.S. in September, with a second co-founder set to join her soon. The other two co-founders hold senior positions at the genome institute, and will continue to act as advisers to Nalagenetics. The startup currently has 10 employees, but it is recruiting amid expansion plans.

Genetic testing is not new in the startup scene. The U.S. has led the market for consumer-oriented gene analysis services, thanks to the presence of many promising startups such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

In Asia, Hong Kong-based Prenetics had earlier entered Southeast Asia, and began operations in mainland China in April. It has raised a total of $52.7 million, according to Crunchbase, which keeps track of startups. Meanwhile, China-focused 23Mofang raised a total of 200 million yuan ($29 million) last year.

Apart from pharmacogenomic services, Prenetics, which could be considered Nalagenetics’ closest rival, offers general genetic profiling that allows subjects to understand their alcohol tolerance, what diets work best for them and risks of cancer and other diseases, for example.

But while Prenetics partners with insurance companies to offer testing kits to policyholders, Nalagenetics opts to collaborate directly with doctors and hospitals. The goal is to develop genetic tests suitable to their specific prescription needs — with a focus on cancer, cardiovascular and psychiatry treatments, as well as those for infectious diseases like leprosy.

Nalagenetics is currently partnering with research hospitals in Jakarta and Singapore, and is planning to enter Thailand next year. Citing ongoing legal negotiations, however, it declined to name its hospital partners.

“What we really want to do is to make this [genetic testing] part of a national guideline of a country,” Levi said, adding that Nalagenetics is well on its way in that direction with the Dapsone leprosy treatment in Indonesia. “Because that means … the whole nation is a captive market.”

Eddy Chan, founding partner at Intudo Ventures, sees business opportunities in Nalagenetics’ “razor focus” on seemingly niche markets, which he said is simply a starting point.

“Once such a company delivers massive value and delightful experiences to its customers, it can greatly expand the market itself and their product offering to customers,” Chan said.

This seems to ring true. Levi said following the leprosy project in Indonesia, Nalagenetics has received similar requests — albeit of smaller scale — from Nepal and India. There have also been other orders from Australia and Dubai.

“With these things, because the market is still quite new, we don’t need massive [promotions],” Levi said. “We only need one distributor or one partner who have full trust on our product, and then it will become a lab reference in the country.”

Galen Growth Asia, a health tech research firm, said 2018 was a record-breaking year, with $6.3 billion invested in health tech companies in the Asia-Pacific region. And in the January-March period, total investment in digital health in the region exceeded the $1 billion mark, edging ahead of the U.S. for the first time. With China stagnating and India plummeting, Southeast Asia drove the growth, accounting for 22% of all deals in the first quarter, up 11% year on year.

Chan said Intudo is bullish on the prospects of the health tech industry in Southeast Asian countries, citing their health care spending as a percentage of gross domestic product that remains below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s average.

Initiatives taken by regional governments, such as Indonesia’s expanding universal coverage scheme BPJS, are another driving factor. Levi said Nalagenetics won the leprosy contract through a BPJS tender, and that it is preparing to take part in other tenders under the same program. (*)

This article appeared first time on asia.nikei.com

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Economy

Eco-bricks, a solution to reduce plastic waste

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Amoye Youth Community participates in reducing plastic waste in Nabire – Jubi/Titus Ruban

Nabire, Jubi – It was a lovely Monday noon (April 14th, 2019) when a group of the youth was gathering in the front yard of Bentot Yatipai’s house. Chatting and laughing, these young people, who are members of Amoye Youth Community, were busy cleaning and cutting papers and plastic waste, then putting it into plastic bottles. They were making ‘eco-bricks’.

Amoye Youth Community was established in 2006 to support young people who are passionate about motorbike at that time. As time goes by, the group started to think about their contribution to their environment. So they began to go around cleaning and collecting plastic waste from some particular locations in town, encouraged local people to donate their plastic waste and initiate a recycling program.

This group’s initiative, said Amoye youth community leader Bentot Yatipai, is a response towards insufficient waste management by the local government. “We conduct social activities, environmental awareness and educational campaign. Waste management is our top priority. Total our members now are 200 coming from several motorcycle clubs,” he said.

According to Yatipai, despite the lack of waste management by the local government, people are also so aware of their surroundings. “Our neighbourhood is still messy. People still not aware about hygiene, healthy environment and its prevention. This is why we initiated the recycling program,” said Yatipai.

However, his group does not set a particular schedule of making eco-bricks due to their other activities. The community members could gather at any time, particularly on weekend or holiday.

“Almost every Sunday they come for gathering. They understood their task and already knew what to do. Collecting waste, wash it, cut it and put the cutting plastics into bottles,” he said.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, eco-bricks also have economic value, to produce chairs, tables or photo booths, for example. “We want to start this program by inviting residents to donate plastic waste and separate their garbage,” he said.

“We don’t know the exact number of plastic waste we received, but it is quite a lot, as many people in Nabire collect waste from other residents from other regencies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lukas Mote said he is interested in joining the Amoye Community because he thinks it has a useful contribution to the environment, health and education. “I am interested in joining because it offers many programs and accommodates members for sharing,” said Mote.

As a capital town of Nabire Regency, Nabire is geographically strategic as it becomes an entrance of the central highland area which consisting of many regencies. However, the demographic explosion has led this regency to a problem of waste disposal management.

From 2016 to 2018, it predicted that the town produced 350-400 m3 of waste per day and this number estimated continuously increases. Some locations such as Pasar Karang, Kalibobo and Terminal Oyehe are full of waste and dirty because it uses as the temporary waste terminal (TPS). Furthermore, people do not separate garbage and plastic waste.

A resident Handayani tells she often throws her domestic waste in a temporary disposal site located in the traditional market at night. According to her, Nabire is still dirty. Therefore, she asks the local government of Nabire to stipulate the regional regulation to regulate sanitation.

“If there are regulation and fine, Nabire must be clean and comfortable,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nabire Environment Office does not have a database about daily waste produced. Officers only pick up the garbage from the temporary disposal waste to the waste terminal (TPA)

In regards to this, the secretary of Nabire Environment Office Yohanis Ramandai said the office does not have a tool to estimate how much garbage produced per day. His office is only responsible for managing the garbage, including collecting, transporting and disposing of at the waste terminal.

In 2018, around IDR 100 million has been budgeted for waste management, including the cost for fuel, vehicle maintenance and meals for cleaning service officers. “Meanwhile, for 2019, IDR 1 billion budget has been submitted to regional working plan but not been approved yet,” said Ramandey.

In regards to Amoye Youth Community, Ramadey appreciates their action in reducing plastic waste. “I truly appreciate them. We might invite them to collaborate in reducing waste,” he said. (*)

Reporter: Titus Ruban

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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