As this study declines that some 800 children have fallen ill and as many as 100 others, mostly toddlers, are feared to have died in what Jakarta called an "extraordinary" outbreak that was first made public this month. One malnourished girl, hooked up to an IV drip, was seen lying on the floor of an under equipped hospital.

AFP reporters obtained rare access to an overwhelmed hospital in Agats, one of the worst-affected communities, witnessed rail-thin children with exposed rib cages lying on rickety beds or wandering foul-smelling hallways. The disease has proven especially deadly here as malnutrition makes children more susceptible, weakening their immune systems.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered military and medical teams to bring supplies to remote villages in the far-flung province. Observers blame the crisis on a complex mix of government inaction, lack of jobs, logistical hurdles in reaching remote communities and resettlement efforts that pose a serious threat to traditional hunting-based lifestyles.

Many Papuans live a semi-nomadic life in hard-to-reach areas of the jungle with almost no proper medical care, schools or other services, including access to clean water. In Ayam village, a ten-hour boat ride from the nearest major city, a tiny clinic lacked almost everything including doctors as its few nurses struggled to treat more than two dozen measles cases.

Some 12,000 children with no symptoms have been treated, including with vaccinations, according to the health ministry, but in the past many Papuans have refused the shots that are key to preventing outbreaks. Indonesia has opened new district governments across Papua and tried to settle locals into permanent villages, but many of the new offices are not equipped to handle the huge task ahead.

"To stop disasters from happening again in the future, we need to stop Papua's isolation," he said. While some new plantations offer hope for the local economy, most workers are not native Papuans, experts said. Jakarta took control of western Papua after hundreds of years of Dutch colonial rule and a UN-backed self-determination referendum in 1969 that was regarded by many historians as a sham, leading to long-simmering tensions.

'Lack of leadership'

The poverty-stricken region gets ample central government funding but much of it does not get used for improving health and education, among other services, owing to corruption and wasteful spending, he added. "As measles is easily prevented with a safe and inexpensive vaccine, these deaths should never have happened," he said, adding that Papua has Indonesia's lowest life expectancy and highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates.

In further study, they hope this disaster will help some people here at least those in power to change their minds, but if they choose business as usual another crisis will appear next year as well.