19 May 2010

Health NGO says cholera thriving on Port Moresby's appalling conditions

6:50 pm on 19 May 2010

Medicins Sans Frontieres says appalling sanitary conditions in Papua New Guinea's capital are propelling the spread of cholera through the city.

As health officials voice frustration over the government's failure to release emergency funding in the wake of the declaration of a public health emergency in Port Moresby, the outbreak's claimed seven lives and is suspected to have infected almost 600 people.

MSF's PNG head of mission says the lack of money is not as much of a problem as the lack of disease training and preparedness.

But Hernan del Valle says there are many factors in Port Moresby that are helping cholera to spread.

"Well definitely the appalling sanitary conditions, this started in two settlements in the city, villages on stilts in the water and it quickly spread into nearby viallages, and those village people don't have access to clean water, they drink from open water sources, they don't have access to sanitation, they don't have access to proper hygiene."

Hernan del Valle says because of that cholera will persist in Port Moresby at the current or slightly lower levels.