17 May 2005

PNG defence force welcomes US navy hospital ship for Manam evacuee care

8:16 am on 17 May 2005

Papua New Guinea's chief of staff for the defence force, Captain Tom Ur, says the arrival of a US navy hospital ship has provided welcome relief for displaced Manam Islanders.

The defence force had been deployed until last month to assist in Manam carecentres where over ten thousand people had been moved to, after the island's volcano began erupting last October.

But the camps have had outbreaks of malaria, problems with sanitation, and food and water shortages.

Captain Ur, who's already been on the ship, says the defence force has sent a medical team to work alongside the Americans.

He says as well as conducting surgery, malaria tests, and eye and dental checks, teams will also conduct water purification tests.

"It's a big ship and it's a floating hospital. And they have everything, and whatever the people need they can help them with. I mean I personally know the ship, and I appreciate their visit to assist the Manam victims."

Captain Tom Ur says as far as he's aware, the US navy hospital assistance is being provided free of charge.