Recent publications have highlighted the impact of human rights violations, poverty and extraction of natural resources on the health status of the indigenous people of West Papua. However, the Australian medical literature has so far remained silent on this issue.
Long-standing allegations of violence being perpetrated against Papuan civil society are supported by accounts given by West Papuan refugees involved in an Australian-based study.
Health data collected by Médecins du Monde and other sources provide an insight into the poor health and lack of health care in the province, with high rates of infant mortality and morbidity, maternal mortality, and HIV/AIDS.
Extraction of natural resources is causing major disruptions to the traditional livelihoods of indigenous Papuans, as a result of environmental degradation, mass displacement and an influx of migrant workers.
Australian health professionals are urged to assist in remediating this dire situation, in keeping with our tradition of contributing to the health care of societies in our region.
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