29 Jan 2004

Health program closure in Marshall Islands draws angry response

9:14 am on 29 January 2004

The closing this weekend of a health care program for Marshall Islands nuclear test victims has renewed calls for the US government to own up to its nuclear legacy.

The health minister Alvin Jacklick has confirmed the health program will be closed but says some of the special services will continue to nuclear test-affected islands through the Ministry of Health.

But the imminent closure has drawn an angry response from Enewetak senator Ismael John, who represents the atoll where 43 nuclear weapons were tested.

Senator John says problems from nuclear testing didn't result from the Marshall Islands government but from the US government which has a responsibility for health care to the Enewetak people.

Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda has also expressed outrage in parliament over the closure.

Senator Juda says there should be no difference between the US government's obligation to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan after fighting there, and the responsibility to the Marshall Islands after nuclear testing.