EAST NEW BRITAIN VOLCANO RAISES HEALTH CONCERNS

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Tavurvur spewing toxic ash

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 1, 2008) – Workers at the Nonga General Hospital in East New Britain Province are worried about the continued ash fall from live volcano Mt Tavurvur and its effects on the workers and patients.

Some staff said it had been more than 10 years since the volcanic eruptions revived and they continued to work in dusty conditions.

The workers said it would be proper if the patients and the staff were transferred to other health centres because of the continued ash fall and the effect it would have on their health.

They said the management and authorities were not serious about the issue and thought that the ash fall and dust was normal.

However, they said they work and sleep in dusty conditions and despite how hard they try to keep the hospital free from dust, the ash fall from Mt Tavurvur is a never ending proposition.

The workers said their patients were also affected as they slept in dusty conditions and breathed in the dust.

Dust particles also contaminate the medicine they give to their patients.

"Our health is very important and it is not only us but our patients as well," they said.

Talks are going on for the relocation of the hospital to an area in the Gazelle District after which Nonga will become a district hospital.

But the workers said it would take a while before the hospital was relocated and added that the transfer of staff and patients out of Nonga should be done immediately.

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