When the Sumba Foundation embarked on a mission over two decades ago to provide the Sumbanese with access to health care, the government clinics were few and services limited. Suffering was obvious. People in Sumba had infectious diseases and very poor access to basic health care.
In 2002, we established our first health initiative. Groups of US medical students assisted a local government midwife clinic at Hobawawi, helping provide improved facilities for labor and delivery.
In 2003, Dr. Claus Bogh visited the Sumba Foundation and with the Indonesian Ministry of Health, he conducted malaria surveys that revealed that 62 percent of children had malaria and very limited access to proper diagnosis and treatment. In 2004, Dr. Bogh joined The Sumba Foundation and established our Malaria Control Program.
In early 2005, we opened our first clinic at Hobawawi with four nurses on staff and volunteer doctors.
We have since expanded our health program significantly to have five medical clinics covering an area with 30,000 people, plus a host of other health initiatives. In addition to malaria control, our medical clinics now treat common ailments, infections, and cuts, provide eye care and dental care, and perform minor surgery.
Over the past 15 years, we have diagnosed and treated around 400,000 patients and saved at least 500 lives.
Since the early days of our health program, we’ve collaborated closely with the local government to help improve health care for all of Sumba and East Nusa Tengara. Through this collaboration, we’ve seen government clinics and hospitals significantly improve and expand.
In 2010, we opened the Malaria Training Center where we educate all of Sumba’s government and private sector health professionals about malaria diagnosis, treatment and control. In 2018, we also educated the health professionals at the Training Center about the diagnosis and control of tuberculosis.
We have expanded our health care collaboration with a number of local and international organizations. We’ve supplied government hospitals and clinics with medical equipment and supplies (Direct Relief International). Over the past 10 years, we’ve had groups of eye surgeons and optometrists from Australia (RACS) and Indonesia (UNHAS) perform eye operations and provide prescription glasses for all of Sumba.
We have also had Australian plastic surgeons operate cleft palate and burn patients (Interplast) at local government hospitals. We frequently have international dentists volunteering at our clinics and collaborating with Indonesian NGOs on the provision of artificial limbs (Puspadi) and eye care education (John Fawcett Foundation).