9 Nov 2010

Hospital in PNG's Daru struggles as 13 die of suspected cholera

7:18 pm on 9 November 2010

The medical facility on PNG's Daru island is struggling to cope with a suspected cholera outbreak which has claimed 13 lives and left dozens more in hospital.

The dead are mainly children who suffered from acute diarrhoea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Daru General Hospital is reported to have treated 260 people with cholera symptoms in the past three weeks.

Health authorities are starting to quarantine people and are trying to restrict movement to and from the island.

Father Vinod D'Mello of the Catholic Church on Daru says a general contamination of local water supplies has seen a steady stream of patients to the hospital.

"You can see on the corridors, the patients are lying. And they're just given an iron or stainless steel rod to which the glucose bottle is being hung, in order to get them recovered from dehydration. They're running out of glucose also."

Father Vinod D'Mello has appealed to regional cultural groups planning to travel to Daru for the annual Catholic church feast to postpone their plans.