Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A clean water crisis is being blamed for a diarrhea outbreak in North Jakarta that has resulted in the death of a baby in Koja Hospital.
"Yes, the trend of diarrhea cases is increasing, particularly the numbers reporting to Koja Hospital, due to the lack of clean water," Jakarta Health Agency Deputy Director Salimar Salim said Saturday.
"The figure seems to be continuously rising."
She said the number of diarrhea patients in Koja Hospital had increased "tremendously" from 33 Thursday to 43 Friday, and 81 Saturday, with one seven-month infant passing away Friday.
The infant, who was suffering from severe dehydration, was brought "too late" to the hospital, she said.
In all parts of Jakarta, however, the total number of diarrhea cases decreased from 219 at the end of the first week of this month to 251 as of the second week, 177 as of the third week and 44 as of the past week, said health agency spokeswoman Feurah Dihan.
According to Salimar, most patients being treated are from Rawa Badak and Lagoa subdistricts in Koja district, and Tanjung Priok subdistrict in Tanjung Priok district.
"We have deployed our officers to the subdistricts since Friday to find the contaminated wells," she said.
She said the agency's officers would chlorinate the wells to prevent further increases in the number of diarrhea cases.
Earlier, Jakarta City Secretary Ritola Tasmaya said that the outbreak "must have been caused by lack of clean water".
"Residents in those areas have limited access to clean water," he said.
At least 31 subdistricts in the capital have been suffering from a clean water crisis since last Tuesday, with 29 of the subdistricts located in North Jakarta.
Mike Fordham, production and distribution director of water firm PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ), said that fire damage to the company's machinery had caused a disruption in supply.
Ritola said the administration had ordered Jakarta's two water firms, TPJ and PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja), to provide clean water to North Jakarta residents.
He said the companies were bound to do so under the contracts with the administration.
"They have 15 tanker trucks to transport water," he stressed.
He said that TPJ and Palyja would store water in the water tanks the residents had used during the February 2007 floods.