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A girl suffering from dengue in a Maumere hospital

Caritas issues dengue alert after 10 kids die

February 18 2010

MAUMERE, Indonesia (UCAN) -- Maumere diocese's Caritas office has issued a dengue alert following the deaths of 10 children in the past few weeks.

Caritas and local authorities have urged people on the Catholic majority island of Flores, in East Nusa Tenggara province, to launch an extensive clean-up campaign in their villages, including houses and schools.

According to Caritas director Divine Word Father Claus Nauman, the dengue outbreak has spread rapidly in the area over the past three weeks and 10 Catholic children, aged 4-10, have died due to the mosquito-borne disease.

As of last weekend, more than 300 people were hospitalized in state-run TC Hillers Hospital in Sikka district, the Catholic-run St. Gabriel Hospital in Kewapante sub-district and St. Elisabeth's Hospital in Lela sub-district.

Asep Purnomo, a Catholic doctor who heads TC Hillers Hospital, acknowledged that the number of dengue patients in his hospital is high.

Father Nauman said the local Caritas office and the local government's health service is urging everyone to clean out their water containers and burn garbage.

People are taking action. Catholics are cleaning up their parishes, and students are doing the same in both Catholic-run and state-run schools.

Father Nauman said that Divine Word Bishop Gerulfus Kherubim Pareira of Maumere had earlier asked all priests and Catholics to work together with the local government's health service in dealing with the menace.

We "aim to reduce the number of dengue patients and prevent new outbreaks occurring," he told UCA News.

He said between 2006 and last year, the diocese's Caritas office had worked together with the local health service to combat the disease with twice-weekly clean up drives. "But the local government withdrew its support earlier this year," he said.

IS08872.1589 February 18, 2010 30 EM-lines (283 words)

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