200 pupils infected

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MORE than 200 pupils and teachers of a large primary school in Menyamya have been diagnosed with both swine dysentery and influenza, as the station’s health centre awaits in distress for medicines, medical personnel and water supply system.
The school, Hakwange Primary, some three hours drive from Menyamya station, has been quarantined by health workers.
A total of 201 of the 562 pupils and six of the 14 teachers and dependents were yesterday being treated.
Only one report was released by Morobe provincial deputy health adviser Micah Yawing, who is also the Menyamya task force coordinator.
He reported the deaths of two elementary pupils at Hengiyapa.
“It was now a major worry when children began to die with no help in sight,” Mr Yawing said.
Meanwhile, classes at Hakwange Primary, which was supposed to have begun with the ninth week of term three yesterday, have been suspended by district education co-ordinator Ron Anakai, for a month.
Headmaster John Akuse said all students would be contained in the school area and treated. At the other primary schools, no one was affected at Umela, less than 20 were being treated at Kwaplalim, while Lagai in Kaintiba, Gulf province, was yet to be assessed.
Teams that had travelled to the villages in Menyamya had returned last night with statistics but they were being kept under tabs for analysis.
Mr Yawing and his assistant task force co-ordinator and Menyamya district administrator Samson Aaron were last night “having nightmares” because of an apparent lack of support from Lae.
“We need medicines. We need additional staff members. And we need water tanks. I can’t go on like this while people, particularly children, are dying,” he said.
Mr Yawing was yesterday pleading for water tanks to be supplied to the Menyamya Health Centre.
He said they would need at least four 8,000l Tuffa tanks.
Without water and treatment chemicals and pumps and connections, their efforts to contain the outbreak would be futile, and more people, including children, would die.
Even more pressing is the need for rations for the health workers to take on patrols into the affected areas and for patients admitted to the Menyamya health centre as well as a water supply system.
A meeting of the Menyamya task force on Sunday afternoon came up with an action plan and appointed personnel to several posts, including a media liaison officer.
Among the measures approved for implementation was an immediate and indefinite ban on all travel into and out of Menyamya.
The ban has been placed at the Kotai Bridge where policemen stand guard.
The task force was given K20,000 yesterday by Menyamya MP Benjamin Phillip to cover rations.
The Bank South Pacific was the first firm to donate money.
It gave K10,000 to the Menyamya task force through the health sector programme account to buy immediate needs.
Mr Yawing added that the most severely affected areas were those in the Hakwange area of the Kome LLG were the 38,000 people have yet to be fully assessed, treated and educated on preventative measures.
He said the dysentery was acquired from drinking water from creeks polluted by pigs’ waste compounded by lack of proper toilets.
In other areas such as Wailala in Eastern Highlands province, the death toll was reported to have risen from one to 10.
Heavy rains had prevented teams from travelling into the area.