27 Mar 2008

At least 23 people in Indonesia's Papua die from acute respiratory infection

11:11 am on 27 March 2008

At least 23 people from four villages in Indonesia's Papua province have died from acute respiratory infection since January.

A local health official, Darius Salamuk, told the Jakarta Post that this is not an extraordinary situation, and health workers have been providing medical care in the four villages.

The affected villages are all in Kiwirok district.

Mr Salamuk says respiratory diseases are a major problem in Papua's central mountain areas.

One reason for this, he says, is that people sleep near the fire in their honai homes due to the cold weather, exposing them to smoke.

A honai is a hut made of sticks and thatch.

He says sufferers could be cured if they sought medical treatment immediately, but because they're beyond the reach of medical services, some of them cannot be saved.