Issue 5 - June 1, 2009 enews home

Mapping Eastern Indonesia's health problems

Dr Stef Bria presenting at CDU

By Richmond Hodgson

Charles Darwin University has hosted the head of the Department of Health from Nusa Tenggara Timor (NTT), Dr Stef Bria, for a series of workshops and seminars on health mapping.

Dr Bria visited the University as part of a delegation from NTT, the closest Indonesian province to the Northern Territory, for the health mapping program coordinated by the School of Environmental and Life Sciences and the Graduate School of Health Practice.

In 2008, Dr Bronwyn Myers and Rohan Fisher, from CDU’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, obtained funding to develop tools and techniques for mapping health data in eastern Indonesia.

Dr Myers said that basic health levels in Indonesia continued to be a major concern, especially maternal and neonatal health among the poor and rural communities of eastern Indonesia.

“This project builds capacity at the district level for the efficient collection and analysis of health data, and demonstrates its use for effective health service delivery at the village level for sites in three districts.”

Dr Bria described how NTT was battling one of the highest rates of malaria in Indonesia and rates of malnutrition, maternal and neonatal mortality significantly above the national average. 

Comprising about 500 islands, NTT is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, with about 30 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Dr Bria said he could see clearly how better understanding health data could be developed through the use of mapping tools and was enthusiastic to propose that CDU’s work be rolled out to the whole province.

The seminars and workshop series also included an address by visiting Monash University PhD candidate, Mr Ansariadi Ansariadi about his work on mapping maternal mortality, and a presentation of the results of CDU’s health mapping work in West Timor.

The group also visited Batchelor clinic, 100 kilometers south of Darwin, and the Menzies School of Health Research to meet a range of NT health professionals.

This visit was one of the final activities in the AUSAID-funded Public Sector Linkages project Public health mapping for effective public health service delivery. 

The workshop will be followed by another in Kupang next month to present the results of the project activities and discuss future directions.

For information visit W: http://healthpslp.cdu.edu.au/ or contact Bronwyn.Myers@cdu.edu.au.