By GABRIEL FITO
AT least eight people have died while more than 300 cases have been confirmed since the dreaded cholera epidemic was first reported at Kambaramba village in Angoram, East Sepik province, on Nov 9.
Oxfam International PNG, an international non-governmental organisation, said the recent outbreak in Angoram was spreading slowly but on a notable phase across the province with new cases reported in Wewak district last week.
Provincial cholera response coordinator Dr John Sairere said rapid testing at Boram General Hospital had confirmed 15 cases for Wewak district since last Monday when the first case was reported.
Dr Sairere said patients admitted at WGH came from Namba 2 Basis, Meni, Boram, Turubu and the latest inclusion was one patient from Sima village in the Yangoru-Saussia electorate.
In the Angoram district, Kambaramba village has recorded the highest cases at 220, Moem and the surrounding villages 42 and Angoram station and neighbouring villages 34.
Dr Sairere said it was pleasing to note that Kambaramba, which has the highest cases and a care centre, had reported no admission for the last two days.
He said reports of nil admissions indicated that people had realised the need to be cautious about their personal hygiene following massive awareness carried out by health teams, community leaders, individuals, NGOs and through the media.
Dr Sairere said following the basic hygiene rules like washing hands after using the toilet, before meals and boiling all drinking water was the way forward to prevent the spread of the virus and this message should be loud and clear for everyone.
Oxfam staff from PNG and Australia have been deployed with relief supplies to the affected areas and have carried out cholera awareness and started distribution of temporary water catchments soap and essential hygiene kits last week.
Oxfam Sepik region manager, Andrew Rankin, said Oxfam had been active in responding to the outbreak with support from other NGOs and the East Sepik provincial department of health.
He said NGOs like Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were working closely with the provincial authorities as the infection continued to spread but the response was slow as resources were limited and the affected areas difficult and costly to access.
The Angoram joint district planning and budget priorities committee had allocated K50,000 to help contain the spread of the disease in the district.