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The Unforgettable Critical Moment

By 3 November 2020October 13th, 2021Group News7 min read

Asmarullah/senior nurse, Asiki Clinic

Editor’s Note:

Have you ever set foot in the easternmost region of Papua? Of course there are people who have come to Papua for business, work, and even holidays. But many feel that Papua is very far. Papua is part of Indonesia’s territorial region, yet it is quite challenging to see it in depth. Papua undoubtedly has big cities, also world-class travel destinations such as Wamena and its traditional local way of living. But the true face of Papua is reflected in the lifestyle and habits of the local people in living their daily lives. Therefore, this writing serves as a place for people to learn about Papua and the lives of the local community from the point of view of a resident named Asmarullah through his profession.

We met the boy in Ki District, in YANG village located in Digoel River. The village population is less than 50 people. The houses around the riverbank were built with wood that could not protect the inhabitants from wind. So it is difficult to say that the village has a healthy living environment.

Most of the villages we visited through the mobile health service do not have what is called as regional economy. The same thing applies to YANG Village. Usually, their only food is the fish they caught in the river and vegetables they picked from the yard of their small houses. Self-sufficiency alone cannot save them from a chronic problem of nutritional imbalance. If only they had the economic capacity to prepare various types of food, they would be able to fulfill their basic health needs.

When we arrived at the village and started to treat the villagers, a couple of people came rushing to us, and grabbed our shirts as if they didn’t want to let go. One of the villagers said that his son was seriously ill. So they suggested that we go to the boy’s home. We immediately packed our things in the village and headed straight to the boy’s home.

The patient’s home condition during the mobile service team’s house visit in YANG Village, Ki District, Boven Digoel Regency

Mobile service team providing first treatment with infusion to the patient in YANG Village, Ki District, Boven Digoel Regency

The entire village was far from wealth and comfort. In fact, the house where the sick boy lives was even more concerning. The roof was made of sago palm leaves and it looked like it hasn’t been repaired for a long time. When the rain comes, it will leak through the roof. When I went inside, the house looked even more worrying.

The doctor started to examine the boy’s condition. I also looked around the house to check his living condition. There was only one room in the house, there was no bedroom, kitchen, or living room. In the room where the patient lied down, household utensils looked scattered. But there were no signs of the cutlery being used before. I asked the boy who seemed to be a brother of the sick boy, “Have you eaten?” the boy replied, “No. I haven’t…”

In a poor family, a patient’s anxiety will spread throughout the whole family or village. It is the same for this house. If there is a sick child, the other child will rush to care for the sick or probably find something for them to eat. The four members of the family, the father, the sick boy, the mother, and the brother, could not find the life’s excitement inside the small and cramped room.

The boy was being carefully examined by the doctor. He appeared to be underweight and looked very weak. Following the examination, the doctor told the parents about his condition. He told them the boy’s illness was quite serious, so he must be transferred immediately to the hospital to receive intensive care. The boy was suffering from chronic diarrhea and malnutrition.

The place where the boy lives looked difficult to repair, in terms of hygiene, as well as the child’s malnutrition. At first, the parents were hesitant to go the hospital which they considered foreign. But the doctor kept persuading them. Because if left untreated, the boy would get infection and suffer from dehydration.

The parents almost nodded, as if they had lost consciousness or had no energy left after several times hearing the doctor explaining that their child is in dangerous condition.

Every time we tried to transfer a patient to the hospital, we always find difficulty to persuade the caregiver. Sometimes we feel questioned by them (the villagers),

“Why do we have to insist on persuading them to go to the hospital, letting them know how to reduce symptoms, and save a life that we don’t know.”

Basically, the question arose because they could not afford to go to the hospital. We are medical workers. So we will keep explaining to them until we succeed in persuading them and transfer the patient to the hospital. Thus, our clinic has  a lot of experience in saving patients and treating them wholeheartedly. The boy’s family also decided to leave the village to look after their child.

Patient evacuation process to Asiki Clinic

After being transferred to the clinic, the boy was given medication and nutritional therapy. On the first two days, the boy’s condition did not improve, so the medical staff and the family became worried. At first, we were speechless with his condition. However, as the days passed, the boy got better gradually, which made everyone able to breathe in relief. The boy was treated for 10 days in Asiki Clinic, a clinic managed by Korindo Group, and came home in healthy condition.

There is a phrase known as, “ciritical moment” or golden time that can predict a patient’s survival in an emergency. That means, it is difficult to save a patient’s life if the critical moment has passed.

The boy was not an emergency patient, but if we had arrived a little late in the village, it might have been difficult to guarantee his recovery. I think our mobile health service has secured the period moment/golden time for saving the boy.

In Papua, death is often the result of illnesses similar to what the boy suffered, which is chronic diarrhea and malnutrition due to the lack of proper living facilities. There may be times they cannot obtain enough food. Moreover, it is not easy to obtain various nutrients in the village in equal measure.

Was it only YANG Village, where the boy lives, that has this kind of condition? No. Most villages, about 80 villages that I’ve visited in Papua through the mobile health service, have houses like huts, with poor quality of food, and isolated condition because there are no transportation and roads.

I hope that our trip was able to provide enough nutrients to treat the sick boy to grow up healthy. There is nothing more we want, other than seeing the children grow up and become the future of Papua’s development.


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