12 Nov 2010

Australia warned over vulnerability to disease outbreaks in PNG

2:38 pm on 12 November 2010

Australian authorities have been warned to take note of the threat posed by disease outbreaks in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

The warning from Professor Ian Wronski from James Cook University's Faculty of Medicine comes as reports say the death toll from a cholera outbreak on PNG's Daru Island has passed 20.

The outbreak, which has developed over recent weeks, is being linked to a wider cholera outbreak on mainland PNG which has claimed at least 79 lives over the past 12 months.

With Daru Island's proximity to Australia, Professor Wronski says it reinforces the need for Queensland in particular to rebuild its disease control capacity.

"We've been warning about it for some time. There needs to be investment to establish disease-control institutes that are able to deal with these things effectively, bring together the state and federal health departments along with universities to develop new tests and be involved in early detection - that sort of stuff."

Ian Wronski