29 Sep 2016

Children in Tongan hospital inhaling asbestos

12:31 pm on 29 September 2016

Several patients at the paediatric ward of a hospital in Tonga's Vava'u islands are suffering from health issues due to the inhalation of asbestos.

Radio Tonga reports the toxic chemical is contained within roofing materials of the Prince Wellington Ngu hospital.

Chief Medical Superintendent John Lee Taione said there is evidence that several children are being affected, because of exposure to asbestos from the leaking roof after heavy rain.

Dr Taione said asbestos can cause lung cancer.

Government spokesman Paula Ma'u said a New Zealand company will be in Tonga next month to remove all asbestos from the hospital.

Dr Taione said the removal of the roof will have to be conducted one room at a time as there is no place for patients to be evacuated to.

He said if people need medical treatment, staff may have to conduct treatment in patients' homes.