The lack of public awareness in Papua of the importance of healthy lifestyles has made health issues one of the main problems in the area. It presents daunting challenges for the dutiful young doctors working there, such as Lidya Fransisca.
The Atmajaya University graduate is aware of this lack of awareness and the big gap between Papua and other regions in Indonesia in terms of quality healthcare and people’s awareness of healthy lifestyle.
“Here (in Papua), each region has a different level of awareness. Our Papuan community is unique. We are facing a society that has a big gap in their level of education as some of them live in the remote areas,” explained Fransisca.
According to Fransisca, local people who live in the remote areas of West Papua are moody and it gives impact on their healthy diets.
She also said that the health issues in Papua are different from other regions in Indonesia.
“In Jakarta, we are talking about more degenerative diseases, such as coronary heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, while in Papua, the diseases are classics, such as malnutrition, cough, nasal discharge, worms, and other diseases due to the local environmental risks,” explained Fransisca whose family comes from Papua but has long lived and been educated in Jakarta.
Having a sense of belonging to Papua, Lidya chose to leave the capital city and work in her family’s hometown. She did not apply to a medical facility like what most doctors do, but instead, she joined Yayasan Pembangunan Citra Insan Indonesia (YPCII), an organization engaging in maternal and child health and nutrition, and Water Access Sanitation Hygiene (WASH).
Together with YPCII, Fransisca has actively built community awareness about the healthy lifestyle in Sorong, West Papua. To raise awareness of healthy lifestyles in Papua, YPCII works together with PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ), an agribusiness company that has operations in West Papua, including managing oil palm plantations.
She said that the collaboration has brought a positive impact in the community around the company’s oil palm plantations.
“We see that most people in Papua now know better about how to feed children and how to properly bathe them,” Fransisca explained that the focus now is to spread information about the healthy lifestyle that will lead to healthy living habits.
Lidya, however, admitted that to raise awareness about healthy living is not easy and realized that the progress might take a while. Changing a habit takes effort and requires attention from all stakeholders in order to achieve a maximum result.
“The learning process in Papua is unique. People have difficulties in absorbing new lessons, they forget easily. They need regular and periodic assistance by companies and government representatives,” she said.
ANJ, who manages oil palm plantations in areas where Lidya works, aims to help improve the community’s living standard.
In healthcare and education field, in addition to partnering with YPCII in raising awareness about healthy lifestyle, ANJ has initiated several programs, such as improving access to clean water, providing early childhood education (ECE) program, and upgrading the elementary to upper secondary school facilities.