NEW CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN PNG’S MOROBE PROVINCE

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19 cases reported in past week

By Mirriam Lukas and Geraldine Gubuli Dwu PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 28, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea, cholera has raised its ugly head once more in Morobe Province, with 19 cases reported to the health authorities in the province since last Sunday.

A lone case was reported from Mandok Island in Siassi district while 18 cases were reported in Lae city.

[PIR editor’s note: Morobe Province is located on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Siassi is a district of Morobe Province. A recent cholera outbreak reportedly occurred in Daru, an island off the south-central coastline of the Papua New Guinea peninsula, just north of the Torres Strait late last year which affected more than 3,000 people.]

Morobe Province’s health adviser and chairman of the cholera task force, Dr Likei Theo said 12 patients with signs of cholera were admitted to the cholera treatment centre at Angau Memorial Hospital on Sunday.

But this time there were no causalities reported.

Dr Theo said the cases are not confined to one specific location but all over the city and most of these areas are settlements.

He named the areas in which the cases were reported as East Taraka, Uniblock, Situm, Nawae Block, Salamander Tais, 12 Mile, Bumayong, Tanam, 6 Mile, 1 Mile, Talair Compound and 2nd street.

He said that Morobe Province was in dry season now and the lack of access to clean drinking water in the settlement areas and the return of cooked food being sold in open-air markets and roadsides posed a very high risk.

He said poor personal and environmental hygiene was also contributing to cholera re-emerging.

He warned all city residents and people in Morobe Province that cholera has never left the province. He said it was now one of the illnesses we had to contend with in our daily lives from now on.

"Cholera is here to stay. No matter what the situation is, people must always seek advice at any health centers near them even when having general diarrhea," said Dr Theo.

He said the health authority in partnership with other stakeholders would carry out awareness as their main strategy to minimize the threat.

He said that the other methods they would use were water and sanitation improvement, personal hygiene, food handling practices and distribution of basic health items such as ORAL salt and non-basic medical items like bleach.

He said they would monitor the situation and conduct surveillance reports regularly to keep track of the situation.

"The Morobe health authority urges the different sectors such as stakeholders, NGOs, government sectors, as well as private sectors to help in assisting the cholera task force." He said people needed to be honest and must accept advice from health workers.

"Majority of our communities are still backward in health practices, he said. People need to wake up and think better, especially about basic things such as water sanitation and having a safe disposal place for human waste."

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