TO PREVENT DISEASE, FIJI VILLAGERS AGREE TO KAVA BAN

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7 dead after flood from communicable diseases

By Maciu Malo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb 21, 2012) - The 800 villagers of Koroboya, Ba, have agreed to give up kava drinking and not to gather in large groups.

This, after traditional representation was made by government officials in the Western Division yesterday, at the behest of Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki.

Nine villagers are admitted at the Lautoka Hospital the eldest a 71-year-old man and the youngest a two-year-old baby.

Out of concern for the growing number of people infected with flood-borne diseases, Cdr Cawaki consulted with heads of government departments in Lautoka where an agreement was reached that a ban on mass gathering and yaqona consumption should be pursued to contain the spread of the diseases.

Seven people are dead as a result of communicable diseases arising after floodwaters receded.

The Ramakrishna Mission mobile medical services which dispatched six doctors and 25 volunteers to Ba last Sunday reported it attended to 500 patients and "the doctors reported a high percentage of patients coming in with infections and serious ailments".

"The Ramakrishna Mission team worked hard throughout the whole day considering it a privilege to serve and bring some relief to the patients," said secretary Swami Tananda.

"In response to the high quality of medical services delivered by the Ramakrishna Mission, more requests have been received for similar medical camps from other flood affected areas."

Divisional planning officer western Luke Moroivalu said the government team in the west had resorted to traditional approaches.

"This is done to easily screen all villagers in an attempt to successfully contain the outbreak. The same method was used at the Nanoko Village during the typhoid outbreak early this year where it was successful."

Koroboya Village headman Manasa Kubu said villagers were concerned about their safety and thanked the Office of the Commissioner Western for the quick response.

"A team deployed by the Commissioner is on the ground looking at ways to contain the outbreak," Mr. Kubu said.

"There are 840 people altogether in this village and we know there is a high risk of being infected so we support the Commissioner’s plan of restricting movements in and out of the village. The yaqona ban also started today (yesterday) and people are not allowed to gather in one area."

Kubu said villagers had been urged to take heed of the health warnings.

There are now 62 confirmed cases of leptospirosis, dengue fever and typhoid in the Western Division.

Cdr Cawaki says of the 62 cases there are 17 cases of typhoid, 28 confirmed cases of dengue fever and 17 cases of leptospirosis.

He says the 62 cases are from 36 different villages.

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