22 May 2007

Health services hit in Marshalls as cargo service is cancelled

7:25 am on 22 May 2007

Critical health services on Ebeye in the Marshall Islands will soon be affected by Continental Micronesia's cancellation of cargo services into nearby Kwajalein Atoll.

Continental Micronesia is halting cargo services to Kwajalein Atoll from the first of June, after the U.S Army more than tripled ground-handling fees for the airline without notice.

Our Marshall Islands correspondent, Giff Johnson, says Ebeye hospital relies on Continental Micronesia to send out patients test samples that need to be checked in off-island laboratories.

He says this is not a simple process, and with the service no longer available, it will needlessly complicate matters further.

"We're talking about things like blood samples that are being tested for HIV, other hazardous type materials. The net result is with Continental cancelling its cargo services, that service that's been available to Ebeye hospital, disappears. So it'll have a very direct impact on patient services."

Giff Johnson says according to Continental's regional manager, the new army charges for handling freight will exceed the revenue the airline generates from cargo at Kwajalein.