Oyos Saroso H.N., The Jakarta Post, Bandarlampung
Chikungunya disease has infected thousands of people in Bandarlampung over the last month.
In the worst-hit area, Waydadi subdistrict in Sukarame, the mosquito-borne disease has struck 500 or so residents in three neighborhood units.
"Ninety percent of the residents in our neighborhood have been infected by chikungunya. There are 94 families in our neighborhood, and in each family, two to three members have been infected by the disease. My wife and I also caught it," said RT 13 neighborhood unit chief in Waydadi, Amin Ismail, on Thursday.
The infection rate is similarly high in the RT 10 and RT 12 neighborhood units.
Amin said he had reported the rampant disease to the subdistrict and district chiefs four weeks ago, but had yet to receive a reply.
"Usually, when an outbreak affects many people, the provincial and municipal administrations immediately respond, for example by conducting fumigation around the neighborhood or providing free medication. But the administration has not responded as of yet," said Amin.
According to Amin, residents who fall ill generally go to the community health center because they cannot afford to go to a hospital or doctor.
Waydadi district chief Amil Riadi said he was unaware residents were infected with chikungunya. "There were no reports from the subdistrict office or community health centers," said Amil.
The disease spread to a number of districts in Bandarlampung starting in November, as rainy season approached. Aside from Sukarame district, the disease has also infected residents in North and South Telukbetung, Kemiling, Sukaraja, Panjang and Kedaton districts.
Bandarlampung Health Office deputy head Tri Henny Sukemi said her office was coordinating with the provincial health office to carry out a fumigation drive in a number of subdistricts deemed rife with the disease.
The coordinator of the Coalition for a Healthy Lampung (KULS), Herdimansyah, said provincial and city health officials had been sluggish in responding to the outbreak.
"The number of patients has climbed into the thousands, but there is not yet any concrete action. The disease in Lampung can be categorized as an extraordinary case now due to its vast spread and the huge number of those affected," he said.
Herdimansyah added that the disease had also infected residents in a number of regencies in Lampung, such as Tanggamus and South Lampung.
He said no fatalities had been reported so far in Lampung, but said the disease was very harmful due to its impact on people's productivity.
"Those affected by the disease obviously cannot go to work for at least a week. It might not matter if they were civil servants or private sector employees because they would still get paid, but what about the poor people who work as laborers? They cannot earn a living if they're sick," said Herdimansyah.
He added the number of sufferers in Lampung might be more than 1,000 because community health centers and doctors treating patients generally do not report cases to the health office.
"Many sufferers also do not seek treatment because they cannot afford to," he said.
Bandarlampung Health Office head Reihana said a number of subdistricts in the city were believed to be the breeding grounds of aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the carrier of the disease, due to an unclean environment and poor sanitary habits.
"These mosquitoes like these places to breed," he said.
The aedes aegypti mosquito also carries dengue fever.
Chikungunya, which originated on the African continent, was first detected in Indonesia in 1973. The first cases were reported in Samarinda, East Kalimantan. The disease then spread to Kuala Tungkal, Martapura, Ternate and Yogyakarta, and later reached other areas across the country.