The Jakarta Globe, January 20, 2013,
The World Health Organization has advised the Jakarta administration to monitor cases of water-borne communicable diseases among flood-affected victims, warning that a delay in treatment could pose more serious health risks.
While the international health body praised the city’s quick reaction to set up more than 60 emergency health posts following the intense flooding on Thursday, the WHO reminded officials to ensure people had access to clean water and essential medicines to prevent any possible health outbreaks such as dengue fever.
“Floods do not necessarily lead to an immediate major increase in mosquito numbers, however it is important to track weekly case numbers and provide laboratory-based diagnosis to pick up the early stages of an epidemic,” WHO representative to Indonesia Khanchit Limpakarnjanarat told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday.
At least 17 people were reportedly killed during the floods, which displaced 18,000 people from their homes at its peak.
On Friday, the Jakarta Health Agency chief Dien Emawati said up to 8,000 flood victims in Jakarta had complained about a number of flood-related diseases, mainly coughs and colds, muscle aches and skin rashes.
The WHO, which cited diarrhea, skin infections, influenza, conjunctivitis and leptospirosis as common illnesses among flood victims, suggested the Jakarta administration distribute leaflets informing people about how to avoid these diseases.
“It is highly important to inform people that they have to seek medical help or go to the nearest clinic as soon as possible when they or someone around them develops any symptoms like a fever, cough, diarrhea, red eyes, or jaundice,” Limpakarnjanarat explained.
As of Sunday, floods receded in most areas, except for places such as Grogol in West Jakarta, Prapanca in South Jakarta and Pluit in North Jakarta.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has warned that flooding in the capital could continue until mid-February.