9 Nov 2009

Public health emergency possible for PNG's Madang province

5:57 am on 9 November 2009

The World Health Organisation in Papua New Guinea says the authorities are considering declaring a public health emergency in Madang, following a spike in cholera cases.

A public health emergency is still in place in neighbouring Morobe province, following outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and other illnesses that killed more than a hundred people.

Cholera is an infection caused by bacteria and can kill healthy people within hours.

An epidemiologist with the WHO says although the disease has only killed one person in Madang, 32 cases have now been confirmed and the number of people who've received treatment stands at 288.

Alexander Rosewell says most of those infected come from squatter settlements in the Sisiak area just outside of Madang City.

"Younger people largely under 30, 20 to 30 year olds are quite highly affected as well as zero to nine and into 10 to 19 year olds. So yeah, definitely young people and settlement dwellers."

Alexander Rosewell says despite no new cholera cases in Morobe province for six days, it's still possible the authorities will consider declaring a national public health emergency.