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Four deaths have been confirmed in Papua New Guinea's Hela Province after the weekend's 6.3-magnitude earthquake.
It struck on Saturday afternoon near Tari, the capital of Hela province, at a depth of only 10 kilometres.
The latest tremor has set back relief efforts in the region which is still struggling to recover from a massive 7.5-magnitude quake in February which killed at least 125 people.
The military officer in charge of co-ordinating the relief effort in Tari, Francis Vitata said his team was trying to reach those in need.
“The primary concern is food water and shelter. Now I have gone a little bit further than that. Those ones initially the delivery of those things have subsided and then I am looking at the second phase which is the rebuilding phase. Unfortunately, the 6.3-magnitude on Saturday means revisiting those areas again.”
Vitata said the weekend quake caused widespread damage to buildings already weakened by February's tremor completely destroying many and leaving people without shelter.
Meanwhil, a Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now operational in Mendi, Southern Highlands to coordinate the health response to the Febuary 26 earthquake that struck the area.
A joint team from the National Department of Health (NDOH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) delivered the initial equipment and establised the system for a more efficient delivery of health services to the affected communities.
“With good leadership, the emergency operations center will help strenghten the public health system and ensure health services are reaching all the people,” said WHO Team Leader, Dr Anup Gurung. A key function of the EOC is to establish survellance systems for early detection of disease and quick response to disease outbreaks.
Provincial Health Administrator, Dr Joseph Birisi, acknowledged the quick response of development partners in mobilising support toward the health response, and acknowledged the important role of donor coordination In order to detect possible disease outbreaks, surveillance systems have also been set up in Hela. Health workers are being trained for basic skills in early detection and rapid response to outbreaks.
Similar trainings are planned for Southern Highlands this week.
To date, WHO has mobilised international and national staff to the earthquake response, covering areas on health cluster coordination, epidemiology, surveillance, informationa management, health operation, mental health, risk communication, administration and logistics and other experts.
WHO will continue to assist the National Department of Health and provincial health teams and its health cluster partners in the coordination of the health response and in developing both short and longer-term plans to restore health services to the affected communities.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/WHO/PACNEWS
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