2 Sep 2003

Health team to investigate severe outbreak of malaria in Bougainville

9:30 am on 2 September 2003

In Papua New Guinea, a Bougainville Provincial health team is to be sent to the remote Panguna area to confirm the deaths of thirty one people from a severe malaria outbreak.

The Buka Hospital Chief, Raymond Masono, says the team is in Arawa waiting to be airlifted to the Panguna district including to the so called "no go zone" controlled by hardline rebel leader, Francis Ona.

Mr Masono says the reported surge in cases has affected the main townships of Buka or Arawa.

Meanwhile the Post Courier reports that Mr Ona is forbidding anyone from entering the area to help those infected.

Mr Masono says the health team will receive assistance from the UN Observer Mission on Bougainville in getting access to the area.