Case study: Epidemic preparedness in Indonesia

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Adaptation and roll-out of IFRC’s Epidemic Control for Volunteer (ECV) Toolkit and Training Manual / Palang Merah Indonesia / 2015

Background Indonesia is one of the world’s most natural disasterprone countries. Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides and volcanic activity pose a constant threat to the safety and wellbeing of millions of people living across the 13,700 islands of the archipelago.

As well as vulnerability to natural disasters, Indonesia continues to face outbreaks of endemic infectious diseases such as malaria, measles, dengue fever, diarrhoea, chikungunya, rabies and leptospirosis. It also continues to report cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in humans. While disease outbreaks can be triggered by disasters, particularly when people are displaced and have limited access to services, they can also erupt as a result of people’s lack of awareness and protection; weak public health systems or the introduction of a new microorganism into the community.

To address the health impacts of disasters and emergencies the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Health, has established the Centre for Health Crises (Pusat Penanggulangan Krisis Kesehatan, Kementrian Kesehatan) to serve as the national centre for responding to outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics. The government has also set up preparedness and response mechanisms from district up to national level.

Yet, while the government of Indonesia and its partners have invested in integrated mechanisms, much remains to be done to ensure preparedness.

As an auxiliary to the authorities and one of the country’s biggest humanitarian organisations, Paleng Merah Indonesia directly supports the Ministry of Health through its Medical Action Teams and its nationwide network of community health volunteers. As well as its trained human resources, the national society has extensive experience in preparing for, and responding to, threats of outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics through its far-reaching community-based health programmes and emergency health operations.