Selpele Community Suffers Skin Illness amidst Pandemic

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A volunteer doctor from EcoNusa team is providing a health service for villagers in Selpele. (Doc. EcoNusa)

Instead of a tourism village, Selpele has customary area adjacent to favourite tourism destination, Wayag, to any vacationer visiting Raja Ampat. As a result, many peoples in Selpele rely their livelihood on Wayag leisure industry in West Papua. 

However, Covid-19 pandemic has changed all. Selpele communities who usually live from holiday business should make up their mind to survive. People should think it over due to the distance of Selpele from Sorong City. It takes 17 hours for regular boat Kurisi to reach Sorong from Selpele. 

EcoNusa COVID-19 Response Raja Ampat team was in Selpele water on the bright weather of Friday, 18 September 2020. Before disembarking, Samuel Wosparik, the EcoNusa Program Officer, said that the team will get welcoming ceremony at nine in the morning after Sunday service at church. EcoNusa team was the first visitors outside Selpele since the first Covid-19 outbreak last February.

Some women lined up waiting their leader during the welcoming ceremony at the dock. It was not a drum band or marching band, but so-called suling tambur (drum flute). This is a tradition of West Papua to hail a certain event, such as hailing a special visitant.

Villagers are playing tambour to greet special guests in their village. (Doc. EcoNusa) 

There are three musical instruments in suling tambur, namely flute, whistle and drum. The drum is unique. The membrane should have been made of cow or deer skin. But, due to financial constraint, they made a membrane from tarpaulin which is susceptible to tear from hard beat. 

In addition to suling tambur, the guest will have a welcoming flower. But, there was no flower as all should comply with the health protocol. People stand on physical distancing and cover their face with masks.

Following the hospitality, Linda Ayei, representing Suling Tambur Group of Selpele women, said that before the Covid-19 outbreak, Selpele women planned to have a holy tour to Manokwari. The holy tour should have been the first tour for them. But, their dream should be suspended up to indefinite timeframe. 

“It is just a pipeline dream. Perhaps (we could hardly go to Manokwari) until the situation is back to normal,” said Linda.

Read also: There is No Tourist in Arborek, Kasbi is the Best Chioce

Many skin illnesses in Selpele

During the medical check, Nanda, the doctor of the EcoNusa COVID-19 Response Raja Ampat, found that many villagers suffered from skin illness. The ailment came from fungi, mite and some secondary infections from wound without proper care. 

There were apparently children scratching their itchy bodies. There were many signs of scratches on their skin medically called lesion central healing.

The skin ailment is transmitted from bed sharing at home, skin contact on sharing bath and poor hygiene. Without proper care, secondary infection might emerge and spread all over the body.

EcoNusa health volunteers provided free health service and Covid-19 prevention socialization to Selpele villagers. (Doc. EcoNusa)

For fungi-caused illness with small lesion, one might get miconazole 2% ointment. But for those with wider lesions will get ketoconazole anti-fungi oral medication for 7-10 days. For the more serious skin illness, permethrin 5% will do better. But, with the limited amount of medicine, EcoNusa could only provide Gentamicin ointment. 

Lehi, an 18 years old woman, also suffers from such skin illness. The doctor diagnosed her with tinea corporis as her skin illness has spread out her whole body from hand, body to legs. Lehi felt itchy as she always produces sweat during her sleep at night. She admitted her itchiness started from her back. But she kept scratching and it continued spreading out her body due to the absence of proper care. The doctor suggested Lehi to get medication therapy, keep her body and her bed hygiene. 

Amidst the pandemic, people on Selpele should not only stay alert on the Sars-Cov 2 for Covid-19. They should also survive from skin ailment commonly spreading in the community. On the other hand, they should also struggle for life during the closure of Wayag from any holidaymaker.  

Editor: Leo Wahyudi & V. Arnila Wulandani

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