20 May 2010

Health NGO says PNG's infrastructural flaws will keep cholera alive

9:09 am on 20 May 2010

The medical aid organisation, Medicins Sans Frontieres, says there's no end in sight for the prevalence of cholera in Papua New Guinea.

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 latest outbreak's claimed seven lives and is suspected to have infected almost 600 people.

MSF's PNG head of mission, Hernan del Valle, says appalling sanitary conditions in the capital make it easy for cholera to spread.

"So even if there was awareness in terms of the basic prevention measures in order to contain the disease, like washing your hands or boiling water, it's very difficult for people living under those conditions to actually follow those recommendations, no? So there are serious shortcomings, infrastructural shortcomings in Port Moresby and in PNG in general, which leads us to believe that there's not going to be an end to cholera in Papua New Guinea."

Medicins Sans Frontieres' Papua New Guinea head of mission, Hernan del Valle.