28 May 2003

Officials told to conduct further tests after jail deaths in PNG

4:48 pm on 28 May 2003

Health authorities in Papua New Guinea's Morobe Province have been told to conduct further testing to try and discover the source of a mystery fatal illness at Buimo jail near Lae.

The acting national director for disease control, Dr James Wangi, says four prisoners have died in the past month and another 27 are ill with a strange neurological illness.

While provincial health authorities have undertaken tests, Dr Wangi says he has advised them to send in a team including an epidemiologist, a pathologist and other health professionals to conduct a full scale investigation.

"in my opinion I think they needed a bit more input from people who know how to investigate strange outbreaks and so on. So I think that is the part that is lacking. I stressed it this morning to the provincial advisor, to make arrangements quickly for such people to be involved."

Dr James Wangi.

Last week the Governor of Morobe Luther Wenge said he would take legal action against the Government over the state of the jail.