Merauke, Jubi – Many women in some remote areas in Merauke give birth to their babies in forest in a practice attributed to a local tradition aimed to protect them from others including paramedics. The tradition only allows a husband to accompany his wife during delivery.
“It is fact that in some villages such as Kondo, Naukenjeray and Kimaam that pregnant women choose to give birth at her back yard or in the forest instead of inside their house and being assisted by medical staff,” the head of Merauke Health Office Stefanus Osok told Jubi on Tuesday (4/11).
Osok said although giving birth in the forest is part of their tradition, it is unsafe and the ancient practice should end.
He explained that pregnant women visited Puskesmas or Pustu (Public Health Centre) during their pregnancy and paramedics and doctors have advised them to give birth at Puskesmas to get prompt medical assistance. However, when the time comes, they go to the forest with their husbands.
“Actually, the Health Office has been making efforts to give understanding to the people in the villages. But, it’s not been heeded. Soon, we are planning to launch a new program, namely ‘Alert Village’,” he said.
The ‘Alert Village Program’ is aimed to result in a joint commitment between the local community and the traditional leaders and health workers to not let the pregnant women give birth in forest and instead take them to Puskesmas to be assisted by health workers.
“I will see the traditional leader of each village because they have a great influences among their people. They will speak to the women and people listened to them,” he said. Further he added,” I have ordered to all Puskemas heads to prepare the pick up transportation for pregnant women. The government disburses all the cost.”
Separately, the Merauke Deputy Regent Sunarjo during his visit to Kondo Village some time ago confirmed the fact that pregnant woman should give birth in the forest, although the midwife was there. (Frans L Kobun/rom)