Health Problems Hit Flood Victims

JAKARTA ~ More than 1,100 flood victims have been treated for respiratory problems and diarrhea in Jakarta, where crowded hospitals are bracing for an influx of patients, officials said.

The capital was hit by widespread floods early in the month, with deep waters submerging a large part of the capital and forcing hundreds of thousands to abandon their inundated homes. Eighty-five people died.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Lily Sulistyowati said there had been 637 cases of respiratory ailments and 498 of diarrhea due to the floods.

Four people had also been infected with leptospirosis, a bacterial disease transmitted through contact with water contaminated by the urine of infected rats.

More than 328,000 people remained displaced, Sulistyowati said in a press release.

Jakarta Health Office spokeswoman Tini Suryanti said most of the diarrhea patients were children and infants. Koja hospital was already overcrowded, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said.

She said the spread of diarrhea could be curbed if people “cleaned up fast,” after the floodwaters had receded.

“All medical services are now free,” for flood victims, she added.

Supari said her ministry was anticipating a rapid increase in the number of flood victims seeking medical treatment.

“Hospitals are now already overloaded … there is no shortage of medicine but it is just that we are facing a shortage of hospital capacity,” Supari said.

The ministry was preparing emergency tents and field hospitals as well as hundreds of campbeds to send to any hospital that needed them.

“Hospitals are not allowed to refuse patients,” the minister said.

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