PNG HEALTH OFFICIALS NOT READY FOR SARS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Pacnews, April 23) — Papua New
Guinea can’t handle an outbreak of SARS, the new disease which is sweeping the
world.

Medical authorities expressed their fear of severe acute
respiratory syndrome during a one-day orientation and preparedness workshop in
Port Moresby at the weekend.

The workshop, organized by the World Health Organization, was
attended by health officials from selected provinces, Health Department and the
Port Moresby General Hospital representatives.

They hoped that an action plan would be drawn up after the
workshop on how health workers would respond should there be an outbreak of SARS
in the country.

They said special goggles and masks were needed to protect
health workers from the virus. Health workers said surgical masks in stock are
not enough to protect them from the virus, which had already killed many of
their colleagues all over the world.

Vanimo Hospital chief executive officer Mark Malaudu said
because 40 percent of those who have died from SARS in countries where the
syndrome was reported were health workers, there was a lot of fear among health
workers in Papua New Guinea.

A similar comment was made by Port Moresby General Hospital
chief physician Dr. Goa Tau. He said there was fear among health workers because
the disease was new and the hospital did not have the equipment to respond to
possible cases. He said there were plans being made on how hospital staff would
respond with the facilities available should there be an outbreak.

He said most of PNG’s grade three hospitals and those below
this level do not have proper facilities. "Some hospitals don’t have
facilities. Most hospitals for grade three and down don’t have
facilities," he said.

Wewak hospital chief executive officer Dr. Linda Tamsen and
Alotau hospital chief executive officer Dr. Jeffrey Mataio were concerned that
the medical stores did not have the stock needed, including the goggles and
masks.

April 23, 2003

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