Plagues, Pestilences and Diseases
Papua New Guinea's cholera outbreak 'rapidly spreading'
May 18, 2010 - 6:49PM
A cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby is
spreading as health officials voice frustration over the lack of
PNG's Health Minister Sasa Zibe earlier this month declared a public
health emergency in the capital, in the latest flare-up of a cholera
outbreak that was first detected in remote provinces in August last
This latest outbreak, centred in coastal villages around Port Moresby,
has resulted in 573 suspected cases and seven deaths.
On Tuesday, PNG's Post Courier newspaper reported funds to fight the
epidemic had dried up and the government's promised three million kina
($A1.2 million) had not yet been released.
Cholera Taskforce representative Dr Tim Pyakalyia told the paper he was
frustrated by the lack of support.
"We cannot ignore it any longer. But if we need to enforce certain
measures, we need help from the government and from departments like
police," he said.
"Tragically, the government has not woken up to this fact yet," he said.
The Australian government has given $A655,400 in funding to the World
Health Organisation (WHO) which will be used to purchase oral
rehydration salts and other medicines.
"This funding will be used to increase water quality surveillance and
to train health-care staff in detecting cholera as early as possible,"
said Australia's High Commissioner to PNG Ian Kemish.
The funding follows Australia's initial commitment of 2.2 million kina
($A880,000) made available when cholera was first detected last year in
Morobe Province on the northern coast of PNG.
Since the first reported cholera case, more than 3000 have been
confirmed nationwide with estimates of between 60 and 100 related
Cholera is an intestinal infection that is mainly transmitted through
contaminated water and food, and is closely linked to inadequate