22 Dec 2003

Nauru hospital struggles with hunger strikers from Australian camps

4:25 pm on 22 December 2003

The hospital in Nauru is reported to be struggling to cope with the influx of mainly Afghan asylum seekers on a hunger strike.

Up to 35 people have been on a hunger strike since earlier this month in protest at their detention in the Australian-funded camp.

They have refused to be repatriated to Afghanistan and Australia has now flown two representatives to Nauru to look at the situation.

A doctor at the Nauru hospital, Dr Keirin Keke, says the hospital has problems to cope as it is underresourced and understaffed.

"We're having an influx with the numbers of patients that we've had in the last week definitely put a strain on our services. And we run a small hospital with an average of you know between 25 to 35 patients, so getting an extra 18 or so, 15, its been difficult to keep up it's been our most stressing thing just trying to keep up with the patient load with the limited resources that we have. 23"

Dr Keke says detainees on the hunger strike are receiving intravenous treatment, before being discharged back to the detention centre.

He says some of them are extremely weak from dehydration but to date, all those who need medical treatment, have accepted it.