20 Jan 2003

Fears of health risks in Fiji after cyclone Ami

10:48 am on 20 January 2003

Fears are growing of serious health risks in cyclone hit areas of northern and eastern Fiji.

This follows a lack of clean water, wholesome food and adequate shelter for tens of thousands of cyclone victims, including young children.

Authorities say with damage and destruction in some areas running as high as 80 to 100 percent, the risks have been elevated.

Eight water and food safety inspectors from Suva are being sent to Labasa to boost services in the town and rural areas of Vanua Levu.

A spokesman for the health ministry says there is a high risk of people getting leptospirosis, dengue and diarrhoea.

He says their main concern is to treat those who were injured and safeguard the health of people.

All health ministry officials on leave have been recalled and put on standby.

The Fiji Red Cross has sent more than 100-thousand water purification tablets to pervent the outbreak of water-borce diseases.

Meanwhile, seven days after the cyclone, many victims have been complaining to the local media that the state has done nothing to help them.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says the government should have responded immediately and valuable time has been lost.

Ten truckloads of relief supplies to Vanua Levu consisting of basic food items will be packed in small parcels in Labasa today before distribution.

The military, which has cancelled all leave for troops of the 3rd Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment, will help in the distribution.