Death toll at 177

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THE number of deaths in Menyamya from dysentery and flu has now risen to 177.
As the death toll continues to climb, the Morobe provincial government and the National Government have so far not moved to declare an emergency in the area.
The Opposition yesterday criticised the Government for “dragging its feet” over what appears to be an emergency situation in this remote part of Morobe and Gulf province.
“We have a very critical situation here, people’s lives have been lost, yet the Government has not announced a response plan. It is indecisive and showing lack of cohesion,” a senior Opposition official said last night. A senior Department of Health official said yesterday a surveillance team would be dispatched on Friday into the area, and their report would determine the Government’s response to this situation.
The toll is from seven of the 11 villages in the affected area of the district.
Menyamya’s Kome LLG council manager Desmond Timiyaso said yesterday that health workers had returned to the station from the seven villages with the statistics.
He said the workers also diagnosed 3,315 who had dysentery and flu.
Mr Timiyaso is grimly expecting the number to increase when the health staff sent into Katanga-Wawaka, Wiyama, Angaibu and Lagai villages return today.
Mr Timiyaso and Menyamya health centre Health Extension Officer (HEO) Bina David said they submitted statistics to Morobe provincial health adviser Dr Likei Theo yesterday.
He said there were many villages that were affected.
“The epidemic continues to spread over villages and hamlets killing many people,” he said.
“Because of lack of manpower, we cannot reach out to all the villages. We are visiting the densely populated villages. Not hamlets.”
He said they were receiving reports from remote hamlets but were finding it difficult to confirm.
Angau Memorial Hospital’s Dr Jack Matrus was in the area on patrol but is now believed to be heading the medical relief assistance in the remote Wawaka village of Wapi LLG.
Menyamya MP Benjamin Philip and provincial administrator Kemas Tomala and acting deputy administrator, district services, Bart Ipambonj will fly in today to visit the area.