By GABRIEL FITO and GYNNIE KERO
PRIME Minister, Sir Michael Somare, appeals to the East Sepik people to observe strict basic personal hygiene as the cholera outbreak hits 500 people this week.
Speaking to the provincial cholera task force committee at the Windjammer Hotel in Wewak on Tuesday afternoon, Sir Michael said the only way to control the disease was to follow basic hygiene practices like cleaning your houses, drinking boiled water, use of proper toilets and sites for waste disposal.
“The cholera outbreak in other provinces like Morobe and Madang might not be the same for East Sepik where a bigger populace lived along the Sepik River and cholera is water-borne disease.
“The National Government has embarked on a long-term plan to build a new sewage system that would not pollute or contaminate water sources and that should prevent such diseases like cholera,” he added.
Provincial administrator Samson Torovi said the administrations, health authorities and NGOs were doing their best to stop the spread of cholera and thanked the PNG Defence Force(PNGDF) team who stepped in to use its expertise and enhanced operations in the province.
Mr Torovi said with the PNGDF’s capability and experience, it would be able to use its expertise and mobilise the teams in one structure to move around, thus accelerating cholera work here and prevent the disease from reaching other districts.
The PNGDF team also had practical experiences of dealing with the disease after working closely with authorities in other provinces since the outbreak was first reported in Morobe last year.
Meanwhile, cholera cases reported in East Sepik has gone up to 518, with 16 deaths since the outbreak was first reported at Kambaramba village in the Angoram district.
According to the latest updates yesterday, Kambaramba village had recorded 230 cases, Angoram 50, Moim 89, Biwat 10, Marienberg 14, Big Murik 81 and Wewak district 44.
PNGDF joint forces commander Col Vagi Oala, who was also present in the meeting, assured the Prime Minister and his people that “the army will use its expertise to accelerate cholera work in East Sepik”.