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Cholera claims up to 300 lives in PNG’s Western Province
4:45 pm GMT+12, 07/12/2010, Papua New Guinea
 As of yesterday, health authorities  in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have confirmed that between 200 to 300 people have already died from cholera in Western Province.

Only 32 of these were recorded at Daru General Hospital, while the rest were accounted for by health facilities in the rural areas, including those in remote places inaccessible to basic government services.

Although Western Province boasts of having one of the longest operating mines in OK Tedi Ltd, most parts of the province are inaccessible due to lack of roads, and this is obvious as teams comprising officers from the Health Department, World Health Organisation, AusAID, business houses in the province and churches join hands to travel out to the rural areas to try and save lives.

Dr Sibak Biep, who was the co-ordinator of the successful cholera response in Madang Province, has been brought to Daru to help co-ordinate the response in Western Province.

 Western Province administrator William Goina gave his approval and appointed him last week to lead the teams.

The Post-Courier could not reach him yesterday over telephone for his comments, but the newspaper has been informed that the situation has been brought under control in Daru and not in rural areas. “Through the use of VHF radios, we are able to get information from the health facilities in the rural areas. There are now more than 200 deaths reported, while the number of cases stands over 2000,’’ a health worker has reported.

The names recorded is around 1229 which are in health facilities, while the rest are from outlying villages that do not have health facilities. In one village, there were 28 confirmed deaths after the teams went out and checked to confirm the figures that were coming from the rural areas.

“Some of these villages are so isolated,” they said, adding the villagers explained that these people died from a diarrhoeal disease within a few hours.

Meanwhile, there are reports of cases of cholera in NCD, Morobe and different parts of the country and people are being urged to comply with hygiene and healthy practices. Using of proper toilets, hand washing, drinking of boiled water are among good practices that people need to take heed of in order to protect themselves from contracting cholera.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

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