14 Oct 2009

PNG cholera cases down but public health emergency remains

12:27 pm on 14 October 2009

The incidence of cholera and dysentery in Papua New Guinea's Morobe province has subsided but a public health emergency will remain in place.

The World Health Organisation's representative in PNG, Dr Eigil Sorensen, says there have been no new cases of cholera in Wasu for four weeks and the number in Lae remains low.

He says the total number of deaths from the recent outbreaks of influenza, cholera and dysentery or shigella stands at one hundred and 26.

Dr Sorensen says a public education campaign on handwashing and clean water has been successful but swift treatment's also subdued the outbreaks.

"Overall compared with other disease outbreaks in Papua New Guinea in the past the response from the government's side has been quite swift and reasonably effective. There are obviously lessons learned, some of the bottlenecks have been identified, particularly to get the supplies effectively rapidly deployed out to communities and we will take a stock of the lessons learned. But overall I would say that the response to these outbreaks has been more effective than I've seen in previous outbreaks."

Dr Eigil Sorensen says it'll probably be another few weeks before Morobe's public health emergency is lifted.

He says the authorities are still on high alert for outbreaks of cholera in other provinces.