Health maps help prevent disease in Indonesia 


Frederika Rambu Ngana trains local nurse Lely Nope at a clinic in Timor Tengah Selatan district

A vital health program in Indonesia is helping to assist local communities to restore health and prevent disease.

Charles Darwin University Senior Research Fellow Dr Bronwyn Myers said basic health levels in Indonesia were a major concern, especially maternal and neonatal health and particularly among the poor, rural communities of eastern Indonesia.

A two-year research project is now helping the local health department of East Nusa Tenggara Province (NTT) to improve the allocation and delivery of health services.

“The main objective of the project is to enable district government officers to improve health service delivery at the village level and build capacity to make decisions regarding allocation of health resources,” Dr Myers said.

“Using GIS we have created a user-friendly system that the local clinical officers can use to map areas of the province and plan the distribution of health resources to target areas in need or potential outbreaks of disease.”

University of Nusa Cendana lecturer Frederika Rambu Ngana has been working in collaboration with CDU on the health mapping project since its inception in 2008 and is in Darwin as part of an Executive Endeavour Award. 

“My focus in eastern Indonesia is to advise the local health department how to use GIS systems and train local health officers how to collect and map health data to use as a resource tool,” she said.

During her visit to Darwin Ms Rambu Ngana said she hoped to develop new health mapping applications and explore animation techniques for showing disease spread.

“In the past, although the health data has been collected and stored by regional and rural clinical staff, it was not being utilised. Now these maps are being used to monitor health delivery and analyse maternal and child health data.”

Ms Rambu Ngana also works with nurses and midwifes in rural locations in eastern Indonesia to train them how to use the GIS system.

 “Even remote clinical staff without knowledge in computer technology can use these tools,” she said.

The program is in collaboration between CDU, Menzies School of Health Research and the Health Department NTT, and is funded by AusAID’s Public Sector Linkage Program.