TYPHOID ON THE RISE IN PNG--UNSANITARY FOOD PREPARATION TO BLAME

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MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea (December 29, 1998 - Post-Courier)--- A PNG doctor says roadside markets are to blame for typhoid rapidly becoming a common killer in the Highlands region, especially the Western Highlands.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Mount Hagen General Hospital Dr. Kintua, the rise in the number of reported cases is the result of people eating unsanitary food and drinking contaminated water.

He said the number of people dying from typhoid had increased in recent years.

Dr. Kintua did not have any figures on the actual number of deaths, but said typhoid cases admitted had risen by 40 percent to 60 percent this year.

"Typhoid is going to be a big killer disease in the communities, going by the number of cases brought to the hospital on a daily bases,'' Dr. Kintua warned.

"It (typhoid) is not a disease like TB (tuberculosis), that one gets passed from coughing, one can get typhoid from eating and drinking food and water,'' Dr. Kintua said.

He claims most people get typhoid because they do not control their eating and drinking habits, saying people carelessly buy and eat cooked food at roadside markets without knowing where food was coming from and how it was cooked.

"One may cause his or her death by buying tea scones, lamb flaps and other food cooked and sold on the roadsides,'' he said.

Much of the cooked food at the highway markets or betelnut markets are exposed to the environment and are not good for consumption.

He said at many places there were no proper toilets for people to use, contributing to the spread of typhoid fever.

"I have raised this concern with the city health authorities and urged them to do something about it soon,'' the acting hospital chief said.

He is planning a provincial campaign to educate people on the dangers of buying and eating at roadside markets, but said it was up to the authorities to ban the selling of cooked food and cordials at local markets and roadsides.

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