Zika Problem and Efforts Towards Healthy Indonesia

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Officer of Ministry of Health checked on the planes and ships passengers through a thermal scanner for Zika Virus. (Photo:Antara)

The number of people infected by Zika virus in Singapore keeps growing. Singaporean Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency (NEA) explained that as of Thursday, September 1 2016, there were 151 cases of infection. It was deemed high and made the local Ministry of Health to take measures immediately.

Zika virus has been a trending topic globally as the virus is believed to cause brain damage to newborn babies. Furthermore, according to World Health Organization (WHO), there are 23 countries in America with Zika infections and it is predicted that there will be 3 to 4 million cases by next year.

The facts regarding dangerous Zika virus have been important education. The zika disease is generally transmitted through mosquito bites from the infected people. Aedes aegypti is the most transmitting agent.

The symptoms showed are relatively light depending on the stages. The infection is marked with symptoms like fever, conjunctivitis, light rash, and joints pain. The incubation period has not been known but predicted around 2-7 days after the bite. The infected needs hospital treatments.

The excessive attention given to this disease is because of the microcephalic aspect. According to Reuters, with Brazilian researchers and WHO have showed strong proof on correlation of zika and microcephaly, which is a neurological disorder. In microcephaly cases, the babies born with smaller heads and brains. It was proven from the cases in Northeastern Brazil which brought 360 microcephaly cases in ten days and as of January 16, 2016 there were already 3,893 cases of microcephaly caused by zika virus.

This disease affects women with pregnancy as they are the main subjects. Colombian government asked its citizen to postpone pregnancy for 6-8 months. It is to minimize the risk of the disease. In other country like Jamaica, who has not detected infection, its administrationhas recommended the women to postpone pregnancy from 6-12 months.

Indonesian Efforts to Resist Zika

Ministry of Health of Indonesia has studied well  and made some policies regarding zika protection. First, Travel Advisory. It appealed the people to postpone travelling to countries with Zika infection such as Singapore.

This directive is deemed positive but it still leaves a big gap as it is only an appeal. The second is the use of Thermal Scanner in every airports and harbors. However, this thermal scanner use is limited only to know the fever in passengers. If there is a passenger with fever, the officer is asked to report to the medical staff in airports.

Third, by checking all passengers heading to Singapore and back from it. Travelling passengers will be guarded and their comforts are responsibility of the government. Fourth, by maintaining cleanliness in the environment, publicization to public to preserve the safety and healthy.

In the end, health is the most important aspect. Government’s policies, especially from the ministry of health are limited. Health treatments should not be put behind after politics, social and economy.

It is the right time for the government to work at max doing their parts. What is the role of students, young researchers and research institutes? In this research institutes, we are expected to find the best alternative solutions to handle,prevent and treat any citizens with Zika virus and other diseases. (*)

Editor: Bambang Bes

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Media komunikasi dan informasi seputar kampus Universitas Airlangga (Unair).

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