MYSTERY ILLNESS CLAIMS 13 IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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Doctors respond to remote Western Province village

By Todagia Kelola PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 19, 2010) - A medical team sent to investigate and report on an unknown disease that has claimed 13 lives in a very remote area of the Western Province is yet to report back on its findings.

The outbreak and deaths which were reported two weeks ago to authorities in Tabubil are from the Murray Valley villages consisting of ward 13, Sanganabip, 14, Fakgubip, 15, Kwerimin, 16, Dahamo wards of Olsobip Local Level Government Council Administrative areas of the Western Province. These affected areas are near the Juha and Hide’s gas LNG projects region of the SHP and Western Province borders

Olsobip Local Level Government manager Michael Rameng in an interview with the Post-Courier said this unknown disease broke out a month ago but was just reported to authorities two weeks ago because of the remoteness of the area.

He confirmed the deaths yesterday and said, "There are virtually no health facilities like aid posts, health centers and hospitals easily available for the people to seek medical help. Currently, the people are in the most inaccessible and difficult terrain areas with no development. The only means of contact is by foot, no airstrips, road, and navigable rivers to those places.

"Because of communication problems and the remoteness of the area it was very hard to ascertain what disease has struck these communities.

"A medical team with the assistance of OK Tedi Mine have dispatched a medical team with Medical supplies to the area but they have yet to report back on the situation" he said. One of the affected councilors and former Western Province Governor Norbert Makmop expressed disappointment at the lack of response from the Western Provincial Administration.

Mr. Makmop has called on the Governor Bob Danaya and Boka Kondra, Member for North Fly, to direct their administration to immediately step into save the lives of people and to stop the spread of these disease by approving funds and dispatching medical teams into the areas.

Makmop is currently the ward eight (8) Councillor of Bolivip village he is appealing to International Health Agencies operating in the country for medical assistance.

He has also appealed to the National Government and International Health agencies operating in the country to move in and assist his people.

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