20 May 2010

PNG Health Minister declares public health emergency in Central Province

3:52 pm on 20 May 2010

Papua New Guinea's Minister of Health has declared a public health emergency in Central Province following criticism of the government's response to the latest cholera outbreak.

The announcement follows a public health emergency declaration in Port Moresby in the latest flare-up of an outbreak first detected in remote provinces last August.

Sasa Zibe says three people in the capital have died from the disease , which has infected 132 people there and there've been two deaths in Central Province, where there're another 117 cases of infection.

Mr Zibe says he gave the province more than 40,000 US dollars in cholera funding yesterday, from a total of the 1.4 million his ministry has made available for fighting the outbreak.

"I am really disappointed when people say the government is not putting money available. I deny that. Money's been made available. It is incumbent upon the public servants to do their job. Do you expect me to go down there and, you know, stand in the queue to get the money and give it to them, is that what the politicians do? No."

The Papua New Guinea Secretary for Education, Dr Joseph Pagelio, says awareness is being carried out on preventative hygiene measures to stop the spread of cholera in Port Moresby's schools.

Dr Pagelio says awareness is being carried out by education, health and local government officials.

He says these agencies have agreed on strategies to prevent, treat and stop cholera outbreaks within the city's schools and surrounding communities.

Dr Pagelio says all children, school staff, parents and guardians need to work together to stop the disease spreading.