7 Sep 2009

PNG top health official says epidemics show need to address infrastructure

7:49 pm on 7 September 2009

Papua New Guinea's Secretary for Health, Dr Clement Malau, says the outbreaks of cholera and shigella infection in Morobe province, are symptoms of the poor health infrastructure in the country.

The diseases have claimed at least 100 lives but one estimate puts the toll at more than four hundred, with several thousand continuing to suffer the effects.

To try to contain the outbreak efforts are being made to have a state of emergency declared, though Dr Malau says a team of around 90 health officials is already working in the affected districts of Morobe.

Dr Malau says the outbreaks are a symptom of an ongoing problem which PNG needs to address - namely, its health systems breaking down at the lowest level.

"It's basically a symptom of the basic infrastructure, the basic health needs of everyone, right at the lowest level of our facilities. People taking basic hygiene precautions, you know, and waste, waste management."

Dr Malau is to lead a team of officials into region tomorrow to assess what is required.