By JEFFREY ELAPA
MORE than K1 million is needed to contain the spread of cholera on Daru Island and the adjacent villages on Western’s mainland, South Fly MP Sali Subam told parliament yesterday.
He used question time to grill Health Minister Sasa Zibe about what his department was doing to do to contain the disease.
Subam claimed that cholera was likely to spread further into neighbouring Indonesia and Australia’s Torres Straits islands.
He said since the outbreak was reported early this month, a total of 1,867 people had been diagnosed with the disease while 172 people had died from it, according to reports he had received from Daru.
Subam said his district had given K345,000, through its DSIP funds, to assist in containing the spread while waiting for the Health Department and others to help.
He said the epidemic had spread to Kikori, in neighbouring Gulf, and was likely to spread to other areas while the lives of 20,000-odd people on Daru were still threatened due to poor water supply and sanitation.
Zibe, in response, said that the department was briefed of the outbreak and had sent a team to assess and report back while officers were carrying out awareness.
He said out of a total national government allocation of K11 million since last year to fight the disease nationwide, only K1 million remained but he did not say whether it would be released to the Daru relief efforts.
Zibe said a response team had been sent to the island and there were plans to deploy more people if needed.
However, he said health problems like the cholera outbreak needed a collective approach in addressing it.
Zibe said the total number of reported cholera cases in PNG, since it was detected last September, stood at 8,080 diagnosed and treated with 150 deaths, adding that 75% of them were adults.
He said these figures did not include the latest outbreak in Daru and Fly River villages which Health Department and Australian government officials said could be as high as 100.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish as saying yesterday he believed Australia would be helping PNG’s health authorities combat cholera for some time.
It also reported that more than 300 PNG nationals travelling without visas had been turned away from Australia’s northern borders in the past fortnight.
Australian authorities had banned travel between PNG and the Torres Strait, which was usually allowed under a treaty, to stop a cholera outbreak reaching Australia.