The National, Friday October 11th, 2013
THREE children in East Sepik have died of severe diarrhoea and dysentery and at least 100 are in coma, a local level government president says.
The deaths and sicknesses were blamed on a prolonged drought in parts of the country by Wewak Island LLG president Pius Bugatar.
Bugatar said the children from East Sepik’s far-flung Blem Island died last weekend
Relief assistance had yet to reach the island, he said.
“I requested for relief assistance last month after a government officer visited the island and complied a report but all my attempts to see Governor Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare or the provincial administration to assist my people were turned down,” he said.
“Water sources on Biem, Ruprup, Kadowar, Wei and Koil islands have run dry and people are diving into the sea to collect water from springs beneath the sea.
“We are beginning to see showers on the mainland but it is still dry on these islands, with people badly needing food and drinking water.”
Bugatar said there were no health centres or aid posts on the islands and referrals to Wewak were impossible given the high fares of between K100 and K150 per person as boats were scarce.
He said Sir Michael and the provincial administration should help him deliver water, medical and food supplies to the affected islands immediately and not wait for people to die.
He said he would seek the support of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for four water purifiers so the islanders could convert sea water into fresh water.