29 Sep 2009

Three weeks into emergency, PNG health woes ease

3:50 pm on 29 September 2009

Health officials in Papua New Guinea's Morobe Province say they have gone two weeks without reports of deaths after separate outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and influenza had earlier claimed around 130 lives.

A public education programme, brought in after a public health emergency was declared three weeks ago, is credited with making people more particular about the need for safe hygiene practices.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Eastern Highlands, Oxfam New Zealand's Dave Neru has been helping raise awareness as part of two-pronged effort to ensure the diseases don't spread there.

"One is personal hygiene. There is some education and equipment being sent out to the remote health centres and border properties. You know with the health campaign it is demonstrating and educating the population in good sanitary practices. We have been assessing water supplies as well. The basis of good hygiene is a safe drinking water supply and water supplies used for food preparation."

While Eastern Highlands has had just one cholera victim so far Dave Neru says Oxfam is helping build an isolation unit at the local hospital, in case the epidemic spreads.