Indonesia's quake-hit Lombok battles malaria, with 137 infected

An Indonesian woman suffering from malaria being treated at a village clinic in Gunung Sari, West Lombok, on Sept 11, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

MATARAM, INDONESIA (AFP) - A malaria outbreak has infected at least 137 people in Indonesia's West Lombok after the island was rocked by a series of earthquakes in recent months, an official said on Sunday (Sept 16).

The quakes and aftershocks since July have killed about 500 people and forced hundreds of thousands into evacuation shelters or tents.

As a result, the number of malaria cases is twice as high as in the same period last year, prompting the West Lombok government to declare a health emergency.

Among the 137 infected are babies and pregnant women.

The government has taken steps to prevent the disease from spreading, such as taking blood samples, distributing mosquito nets and fogging.

Mr Amaq Aniyah, 65, was diagnosed with malaria after feeling unwell for a week.

His house was destroyed by a 6.9-magnitude quake in early August and since then, he has been living in a tent. Paramedics have given him a mosquito net.

"Ideally, we should give mosquito nets to everyone, but because we only have a few, we have to be selective," said paramedic Farlin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The head of West Lombok regency, Mr Fauzan Halid, told AFP they only have 3,000 mosquito nets but need about 10,000.

Declaration of a health emergency will allow West Lombok to seek 3.4 billion rupiah (S$315,000) in aid from the provincial and central government to tackle the crisis.

Indonesia's rainy season is expected to start next month, raising fears that malaria-carrying mosquitos could breed in stagnant water.

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