Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that causes many problems such as heart failure, difficulties in breathing and paralysis. It was almost dropped to level zero in Indonesia, but in the last four years, it has regenerated, and many people are getting affected. It is alarming that from January the disease has taken 38 lives.
To stop loss of life and further spread of the disease, Indonesia has started an immunization campaign. In the first stage of immunization, 8 million people under the age of 19 (children and teenagers) in Jakarta and the populous provinces of Banten and West Java are getting immunization services. On Monday, the very first day of campaign, children in school uniforms and toddlers received the vaccination at a high school in Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia).
Health Minister Moeloek visited a hospital where 30 diphtheria patients were being treated. He concluded that the outbreak is because some people refused immunization which caused lesser antibodies in children and their resistance also got low. She added that there might be numerous reasons why parents are avoiding immunization of children.
The disease almost disappeared in Indonesia earlier when a family education program sent volunteers into villages where they motivated mothers and taught them about nutrition and sanitization and also made them aware about national immunization days. This resulted in a positive response, and the statistics noted a great fall in the count of victims. But sadly the program was interrupted after Suharto’s ouster in 1998, and then the decentralization of the government also tangled the health officials.
Now victims’ mothers are complaining that they did not know about the vaccination. Another lady added that none of her children had been immunized.
The immunization process has finally started again. So it seems that everything will be back on track soon.