Health boss commends Buka chiefs

Islands, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

THE chiefs of Buka Island have been commended for their leadership and efforts to contain a cholera outbreak reported in their area in March.
Health secretary Dr Clement Malau said for the chiefs to advocate and help households and communities to build pit latrines “is a sustainable strategy to prevent cholera and other preventable diseases”.
“The effort is commendable, and I encourage leaders at all levels in communities to provide the leadership in public health issues and in other areas that can improve the lives of our people,” he said.
Malau made this comment after receiving updated reports on cholera from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the seven other affected provinces.
He urged individuals and communities to observe basic hygiene practices like washing hands regularly.
He said, as of April 28, there had been 12,411 cases of cholera and 484 deaths.
Of the 484 deaths, 267 samples were confirmed positive for vibrio cholera, the germ that causes cholera.
Malau said the figures for unreported cases could exceed the data collected.
The cholera outbreak was first reported in Morobe province in August 2009, from where it spread to Madang, East Sepik, National Capital District (NCD), Central, Gulf, Western and most recently the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Malau said in the eight provinces, male population accounted for 53.3% and female for 45.4% of all cases. The majority of cases were older than five years (71.8%).
He said nationally, the situation “seems to have declined in the Western, NCD, Central and Morobe provinces”.
“In these provinces most of the task force operations have scaled down while maintaining surveillance to monitor potential resurgence of the germ,” he said.
Malau said today’s hotspot area was the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The first case was detected in the Haku constituency of Buka Island on March 18 last year.
All task force operations in the region are all responding to contain the outbreak.
Malau acknowledged the continuous support of the government, provincial governments and administrations including the hospitals, and the private sector including the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund and Doctors without Borders.