Photo source: USAID
As a nurse and midwife, Ibu Yulisnawati, now 47, has worked in the Daik Health Center in the Lingga Subdistrict for over 20 years. In 2012, she was appointed as the focal person for lymphatic filariasis (LF), also known as elephantiasis, with the main responsibility of coordinating program staff, disease surveillance, and program implementation. Since becoming the focal person, Ibu Yulisnawati has worked very hard to coordinate, motivate and implement the LF program in her health center catchment area. Through continuous advocacy and hard work, she helped ensure a coverage rate of over 82% in the district’s first round of mass drug administration in an area that is logistically complicated by rough terrain and remote areas only accessible by boat.
Daik Health Center consists of 15 villages and 24 LF drug posts, eight of which are spread out among hard-to-reach islands with indigenous communities. One such community is home to the people called Suku Laut (translated as the people who “love the sea”). Outreach programs often neglect these people because boat travel is required to reach their remote island home. Showing her dedication and commitment to her fellow community members, Ibu Yulisnawati strategized and collaborated with army officials at the subdistrict level to ensure that these forgotten communities received DEC and albendazole.
Ibu Yulisnawati’s motivation is driven by the five people with elephantiasis who live in the health center area. She is determined to cut LF transmission by ensuring that people take the required medicines in her supervised areas. To mobilize the community to come to the drug posts to receive medicine, Yulisnawati and her team distribute informational flyers, provide health education about LF transmission, and monitor for possible adverse events. She advocates for LF with the heads of villages and cadres (community health volunteers) to ensure that the communities are aware of the distribution period before it happens. Because of her long tenure in the district, Ibu Yulisnawati has developed close relationships with the community members, ensuring a level of trust that undoubtedly led to the high success of the mass drug distribution in her district.