Monday, May 25, 2009

Hundreds of mentally ill people in Indonesia dying of diarrhea, malnutrition, government reports

From The Jakarta Post in Indonesia:

There was not much of an outcry about it; for six months three people every four days died from diarrhea and malnutrition at shelters for mentally ill people in the capital.

No fuss was made until the city administration received a report from an agency about the staggering numbers.

Recent data from the Jakarta social agency revealed that 181 people died between October 2008 and May 22, 2009, at four shelters in Daan Mogot and Cengkareng, both in West Jakarta, and Cipayung and Ceger, in East Jakarta.

Effendi Anas, the city's assistant for people's welfare, said Friday their deaths resulted from diarrhea and malnutrition.

"I received a report from the health agency that patients who were ill were treated at Duren Sawit Hospital *in East Jakarta*, which is the reference hospital for patients in the shelters," he said.

Health agency head Dien Emawati said there had been an overcapacity of patients at the shelters.

"There are five to seven people per room. Due to the lack of rooms, a hyperactive patient may be placed in the same room as a weak or quiet patient," she said.

Lack of officials was cited as an influential factor.

"They suffer from malnutrition because the shelters have few officials who are responsible for feeding the patients. People with mental illnesses tend to be reluctant to eat if they are not fed," said Dien, adding her office had distributed medication for diarrhea.

Effendi said the administration would deploy paramedics to treat patients suffering from diarrhea and malnutrition.

"Starting from Saturday, there will be doctors from the health agency who will directly visit the four shelters, as well as distribute medication," he said.

He added that so far the shelter could not send patients with a mental illness to random hospitals, as they needed special paramedic support.

"We will try to find a solution because we cannot neglect these people," he said.

The mortality rates at the four shelters are rising every year. Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, a member of the Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta), said the city administration should carry out an overall evaluation of how to handle these patients.