The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013
A MEDICAL team from the Wewak district health office is on Biem Island, northeast of Wewak, East Sepik, to treat hundreds of people affected by the recent outbreak of diarrhoea and dysentery there and on surrounding islands.
The outbreak claimed the lives of four children and an adult last week, while nine others, including an infant, were rushed to Wewak General Hospital where they are recovering.
Wewak Island president Pius Bugatar said hundreds of others were stranded on there because of the high cost of fuel when hiring boats for the four-hour journey to Wewak.
“The outbreak and other infections that stem from general unhygienic living conditions on the island are blamed on the prolonged dry spell for the past five months,” Bugatar said.
“The situation on the island is worsening each day and I am grateful that the health team finally arrived on Saturday and is administering treatment to those affected.”
He said water sources on Biem, Ruprup, Kadowar, Wei and Koil islands had run dry and people were diving into the sea to collect water from springs beneath the water.
Biem Island paramount chief Greg Kibai said people were down with diarrhoea, dysentery, ulcers and other common illnesses because of the unhygienic conditions.
He said they needed food and clean drinking water as water from the springs tasted salty.
Kibai urged health authorities to carry out awareness activities on how to avoid contracting communicable diseases by keeping pigs and other domestic animals in pens so that they did not add to the problem.