12 Jan 2005

Diseases strike Manam Island evacuees

12:00 pm on 12 January 2005

Authorities in Papua New Guinea says they are trying to prevent outbreaks of diseases in overcrowded care camps for Manam Islanders.

At least 12,000 people have now been evacuated to mainland care centres, after the Manam volcano began erupting last October.

The Intergovernment Relations minister, Sir Peter Barter, says only a quarter of Manam's population refused to leave what is a 'malaria free' island as there are no mosquitos there.

He says evacuees live in close proximity to one another in makeshift camps, and the wet season is also contributing to the spread of disease.

Sir Peter Barter says most of the victims so far, have been children.

"There have been some deaths of young people dying of pneumonia and malaria, which perhaps would not have happened had they stayed on the island. Mainly children, but there has been a couple of older people as well."

A Defence spokesman, Lieutenant Thomas Kilala, says there have been problems getting medical treatment to those who need it most.

Children less than 10 have died from , we also could not also get our medical team and equipment into the care centres.

Lieutenant Thomas Kilala says 50 soldiers will shortly be deployed to evacuee camps to help Provincial authorities care for evacuees.