Indonesian Ministry of Health Moves Rapidly to Overcome Malnutrition and Measles in Asmat District

Entering the first month of 2018 the Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) received reports of cases of measles (Morbili) and malnutrition experienced by a number of infants under-fives in Agats Sub-district, Asmat District, Papua.

The Ministry of Health expressed a sense of empathy for patients and their families who are currently undergoing treatment at Asmat General Hospital. In addition, the Ministry of Health remains to monitor and provide assistance in efforts to address the problem that has been running at the district and provincial levels.  Kemenkes also appreciate the media which has put great attention to the public health situation in Asmat district, Papua.

Based on a report from the provincial health office of Papua, 3 tons of supplementary feeding (PMT), 800 vial measles vaccine and 10,000 pcs of 0.5 ml syringe were delivered to Agats district.  A health worker from Asmat district is still in the field for mass immunization against measles. Other medicinal needs to date are still sufficient.

Kemenkes has also coordinated with the provincial health office of Papua and continues to collect some of the data needed in determining the mitigation measures, either the assistance that can be provided by the central government and/or the fulfilment of the resources needed by the province. At the central government level, the Directorate General of Public Health, the Directorate General of Disease Prevention and Control, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Kemenkes Research and Development unit are preparing a team that will conduct visitation, supervision and assistance for health workers who will be dispatched to Agats, Papua, in the near future.

Kemenkes will also conduct interventions, especially in the placement of human health resources  in the district of Asmat, either through Nusantara Health program, compulsory work of specialist doctors, as well as individual special assignment.

As reported, Kemenkes received reports that Asmat hospitals received referral cases of measles or morbili and malnutrition since January 8, 2018. The number of measles cases was recorded as many as 22 patients (6 inpatients and 16 outpatients).  Meanwhile, 8 patients were reported with malnutritions (2 inpatients, 5 outpatients, and 1 patient died).

President Joko Widodo has also asserted that the government is not silent about the extraordinary incidence of measles and malnutrition that has occurred in Asmat District, Papua Province, in recent months.

According to the President, he has ordered the relevant officials to immediately take to the field to solve the problem that has caused the loss of life.

“We have sent the team a couple of days ago or last week, they have actually started to go in September.  They have been sending additional food but it is very difficult terrain,” said the President to journalists at Bung Karno Main Stadium, Jakarta on Sunday 14 January 2018.

The Signing of Shares Divestment of PT Freeport Indonesia

The Indonesian Government represented by the central government, Papua provincial government, Mimika regency government and PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (PT Inalum) signed the agreement for shares divestment of PT Freeport Indonesia in the Ministry of Finance.

The agreement was signed by the Minister of Finance, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, Governor of Papua, Mimika Regent and General Director of PT Inalum.  The agreement was a step forward and strategic in the takeover of divestment shares of PT Freeport Indonesia after the conclusion of understanding between the Indonesian government and PT Freeport Indonesia on 27 August 2017.  The agreement is an example of cooperation between the central government, local government and State-Owned Enterprises in the take-over of PT Freeport Indonesia divestment shares.

Based on the agreement, the provincial Papua government and Mimika regency Government will have 10 per cent of PT Freeport Indonesia shares after divestment.  The portion of right shares is for the interest of the public over traditional rights and those affected permanently by mining.

The share divestment of PT Freeport Indonesia will be implemented through corporate mechanism so it won’t burden the national and local budget and will be one of the benefits of the creation of a holding company of State-Owned Enterprises for Mining Industry.

The whole divestment scheme will allow the Indonesian government to have 51 per cent of shares.  President Joko Widodo has committed the divestment scheme will be transparent, free from vested interest of certain groups and manage accordingly each step of the way.

The government hopes that the 51 per cent ownership will increase state revenues, accelerate the down streaming of the mining industry in order to add value, increase employment opportunity and development in the province.  In the end, the taking of the divestment shares will benefit the whole component of the nation, including the people in Papua.

The momentum of this signing will be an important history for the people of Indonesia.  The whole divestment process must be securely guarded with national interest in mind, interest of the Papuan people and the sovereignty of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia in managing the natural resources transparently and maintaining conducive investment climate.

President Jokowi’s Touch in the Land of Papua


President Jokowi’s public communication directly to contact with the Papuan people carries a positive message. Internal ministries/institutions also required to be more thoughtful and determined in interpreting and managing various policy that has been put by President Jokowi in the last 3 years. To bring the welfare in Papua, his first touch is to accommodate the approach on conceptual development based on the respective cultural areas. His second approach is by encourageing the regional approach

President Jokowi has been taking several touches to bring prosperity to the Papuan People. Here, I summarize it by five touches.

Managing Papua is not easy. With a specific context and a multidimensional nature, undoubtedly, it takes patience in touching the Papuan, especially the Indigenous Papua. However, the state measures must ongoing in the midst of a highly dynamic, internationally, nationally and regionally strategic environment.

From the history of national development, every President of the Republic of Indonesia, from President Sukarno to President Joko Widodo, was confronted with the agenda of managing Papua. Despite the differences in the policies and leadership style, all the country leaders have a primary commitment to actualize the promise of Independence 1945 to all corners of the country.

President Jokowi’s touch

Similarly, conducted by President Jokowi in managing Papua. President Jokowi’s public communication directly to contact with the Papuan people carries a positive message. Internal ministries/institutions also required to be more thoughtful and determined in interpreting and managing various policy that has been put by President Jokowi in the last 3 years.

The first touch

President Jokowi accommodates the approach on conceptual development based on the respective cultural areas, which are Saereri, Anim-ha, Mee Pago, Laa Pago and Mamta) in the National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015 – 2019. The development pattern adjustment stated in Presidential Regulation No. 2 of 2015. The change of sociologist-anthropological approach into technocratic planning is alongside with the primary idea of Papua Governor Lukas Enembe who is reorganizing the regional development of Papua.

Therefore, in the context of policy implementation, the approach on that five cultural areas should be interpreted  and implemented by Ministers, Directore General, Deputy and other executives in Ministries/Institutions to design more technical, in terms of sectoral and regional policy formulation, programs and projects, as well as specific budget formulations for Tanah Papua, so as to suit the needs and characteristics of the cultural areas.

The second touch

President Joko Widodo’s approach to the the lands in Papua by encourageing the regional approach. This strategy was chosen after considering various aspects, such as the vast territory of Papua, unevenly distributed populations, as well as the potential of strategically valued natural resources. For that, the clusters or regional corridors approach using inter-regional connectivity support is an appropriate measure.

Currently, the Government has established Bintuni Industrial Zone, Timika Industrial Estate, Merauke Food Center (KEK Merauke), Special Economic Zone (KEK) of Sorong and other potential areas. In particular, on 1st August 2016 President Joko Widodo ratified Government Regulation No. 31st of 2016 on the Special Economic Zone (KEK) of Sorong. With this KEK framework, the Government implements a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to accelerate investment in the Sorong KEK.

Alongside this policy, in 2014 – 2019, the Government give more attention towards 25 Disadvantaged Regions in Papua and 7 Disadvantaged Regencies in West Papua. Thus, this territorial strategy will connect economically strategic areas and underdeveloped areas in Papua.

* The third touch*

As part of the effort to create an equal management of natural resources in Papua, President Joko Widodo attention is concentrated on the renegotiation of Freeport Indonesia Inc. On one occasion President Jokowi once advised, “Indonesian sovereignty should be maintained in the negotiation process with Freeport Indonesia” (, 4/9/2017). We are all aware of the very high interest of the United States over Freeport Indonesia and its presence in Papua is not merely economic, but also related to the history Papua’s integration in the geopolitics of the world.

The foundation for the renegotiation of Freeport Indonesia has been laid down by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as published by Presidential Decree No. 3/2012 on the Evaluation Team for the Adjustment of Coal Mining Concessions. From 17 points requested by Papua Governor Lukas Enembe in 2013, it is finally compressed down to 6 renegotiation agendas.

Now, there is a significant progress achieved in the President Jokowi’s administration, as said by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Minister Ignatius Jonan on August 29, 2017. There is an agreement that Freeport Indonesia Inc. agreed to divest 51% of shares to the Government of Indonesia. Freeport committed to building a smelter within 5 years until January 2022, the contract of work become a Special Mining Permit (IUPK), so Freeport Indonesia can agreed to maintain a greater state revenue which is better than the work contract regime.

The fourth touch

The fourth touch formulates a comprehensive development acceleration strategy for Papua.

These accelerated development measures were actualized by President Jokowi on 11 December 2017, using a Presidential Instruction Number 9 of 2017 on the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua Province and West Papua Province. President Instruction 9/2017 is focused on the health and education sector, local economic development, basic infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and connectivity. In the process, the Government will adopt a development based on culture, the area of custom and indigenous Papua-focused, as well as communicating with all Papuan community.

Thereby, with the concentration of poverty number in rural and highlands, it appears that the President Instruction 9/2017 also implements a focus on remote, around the borders and underdeveloped areas mainly in rural and highlands areas that are difficult to reach.

The fifth touch

President Jokowi determined in supporting the Governor Lukas Enembe who is currently preparing Papua as the Host of the National Sports Week (PON) Year 2020. The determination proved with the publication of Presidential Instruction No. 10 of 2017 regarding the Support on National Sports Week XX and National Paralympic Week XVI Year 2020 in Papua Province. In the Cabinet Meeting on July 19, 2017, President Jokowi emphasized the need for a law to accelerate the development of various facilities and infrastructure of National Sports Week (PON) 2020.

After the discussion since late July 2019, finally, President Jokowi signed the Instruction 10/2017 on December 18, 2017. From President Jokowi point of view, “PON project venue development in Papua has a very important meaning, not just sporting Papua, but also Indonesia”. This was explained by President Jokowi when placing the first stone of the construction of the main stadium in Kampung Harapan, Jayapura, on May 9, 2015, ago. This view of the President is correlated with the expectations of Governor Lukas Enembe, who sees PON 2020 in Papua as an instrument in accelerating Papua’s development and as an approach to building the identity and pride of the Papuan people. Sport, identity, and spirit of unity being put together in one step.

Challenges and limitations

We are all aware that Papua agenda is multi-dimensional and complex. Managing Papua requires a holistic approach to fundamentally touch the root of the problem existed. Especially now the world draw attention to the dynamics of Papua from day to day. A number of issues such as Human Rights, the issue of “slow-motion genocide”, the issue of a referendum, and the issue of International Dialogue, became the agenda raised by various communities. The geopolitical situation of the world and the area that gives room for the Papua issues to rise become a challenge that requires intensified attention from the country.

Currently, the State (Executive, House of Representatives and DPD RI) facing a demand to reconstruct the Law no. 21 the year 2001 on Special Autonomy for Papua Province (and West Papua). The Parliament has included it in the list of Prolegnas 2015 – 2019, called Law on Special Autonomy for Provinces in Papua. For the internal Government, in depth study is needed to be able to address this growing aspiration.

Finally, the touch made by President Jokowi and the administration is a form of State presence in the middle of the Papuans. Step by step to flourishing Papuan’s assurance towards Republic of Indonesia.

Dr. Velix Wanggai

(Presidential Special Staff 2009-2014 concerning Provincial Development and Regional Autonomy, observer of Papua development)

Excerpts from the Article “”Creating Connectivity and Opening Isolation in Papua”

Second Corporal Eko Prasetyo (31 years old) serves in the Indonesian Army Infantry Battalion 754/Eme Neme Kangasi (ENK) in Papua and was assigned to Kenyam District, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua.  It takes him about three hour drive to travel 50 kilometres from his residence on Jalan Trans Nabire Mile 32, Kuala Kencana District, Timika to Kenyam District.  Eko explained that he is in charged for security issues for two weeks in Kenyam District.  Eko, who has been working for 12 years in Timika, has been repeatedly assigned the special task of safeguarding the security from separatist disturbances, including maintaining PT Freeport’s assets.

For two weeks in Kenyam District, Eko circumnavigated the area and took a walk along the recently completed Trans Papua Road.  The existence of the Trans Papua Road has help to open up this region from isolation.  Before, local residents would prefer to take air or water transportation to neighbouring districts rather than take the land route since the natural conditions are difficult to pass.  The government is building a four lane road (two lanes going the opposite direction) to help developed better access for local communities.  The road project was started by the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers which cleared the trees for the road and continued by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing which paved the roads.  Not all sections of the Trans Papua Road have been paved though.

According to Eko, even when the Trans Papua Road is not completed you can already see increase economic activities as the result of the road project.  The road has shortened the distance between parts of Papua.  He continued, the existence of Trans Papua Road is like a toll road in Java. As a result, vehicles can accelerate as they like while enjoying the bonus of incredible natural scenery.

“The last section has not been paved, I do not know whether it has been paved yet since  this section should connect with the section passed by President Jokowi with (former) Commander in Chief while riding motorcycles trying the road,” said Eko.

On May 5, 2017, President Jokowi was accompanied by Army Officers and members of the Cabinet on a trail bike reviewing the 7 km Wamena-Habeman road project. Jokowi admitted that the difficult terrain in Papua has become an obstacle as well as a challenge for the development of infrastructure projects.

Economic Growth

The Trans Papua road extends from Sorong, West Papua to Merauke, Papua along 4,330 km or almost six times the length of Jakarta-Surabaya. The National Strategic Project is targeted to be completed by 2019. The project that has been carried out since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) era, has been intensified since President Jokowi was elected as the President of the Republic of Indonesia in 2014.

Until now, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing together with the Army Corps of Engineers continue to work on completing the construction of the last section of the Trans-Papua Road that has not been connected for about 479.04 km (11 percent). In fact, the initial target that has not been connected until the end of this year amounted to 366.2 km or eight percent.  Minister of Public Works and Housing Basuki Hadimuljono said, the construction of Trans Papua Road is very difficult and challenging, such as through the mountains, forests, ravines, and rivers, which makes the work not easy at all.

Constraints are often faced in the field, the weather conditions and tough environment so that officials often have difficulty bringing materials and heavy equipment to the location.  “Trans Papua’s development does not merely link the Papua Province with West Papua but opens up isolated regions or areas and thereby lowering the cost of goods,” Basuki said.

According to Basuki, the presence of Trans Papua Road also opens up the potential of the local economy, especially the tourism potential. He pointed out, the area that was once very difficult to reach such as from Ayawasi in Maybrat regency towards Petik Bintang, the road path is now open.

Erik Purnama Putra, Republika Journalist