PISAI GUMAR in MENYAMYA
THE dysentery and flu outbreak in Menyamya in Morobe province and Kaintiba in Gulf province has spread into the Eastern Highlands province.
The disease has been described by Dr Jack Marcus of the Angau Memorial Hospital, who was in Menyamya on patrol last week, as swine dysentery.
Besides the 14 villages of Kome and Wapi LLG in Menyamya, the latest report is of one death at Wailala village in Eastern Highlands.Another Morobe station affected was Aseki.
So far, the total death toll confirmed by authorities has been put at 80.
Health authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the actual figure could be more than 177.
Five more deaths were reported yesterday but have yet to be confirmed by health workers before they can be officially recorded.
The tally of 177 deaths was brought into the station by village peace officers from Akwange, Kwaplalim, Lagai, Ikumdi, Watama, Hengiyapa, Umba, Concordia, Wawaka, Kapo, Akwanze, Katanga and Wiyama in Menyamya and Buu-angai in Kaintiba, Gulf province.
The recorded cases since the first case was reported in mid-July have 2,973 affected by flu and 356 by dysentery.
There are now a total of 3,329 sick people. Some people have suffered both sicknesses.
Most medical teams had already been dispatched to the outbreak areas by yesterday afternoon.
The other two for the villages in Gulf and Eastern Highlands provinces were waiting to be deployed by helicopter.
Bad weather yesterday had prevented their deployment.
Morobe provincial deputy health adviser Micah Yawing, who was in Menyamya since last Wednesday, said yesterday the flu was “the normal flu”.
The swine dysentery has been caused by people consuming food and water contaminated by pig excrement.
The bacteria then affected the intestines causing people to suffer diarrhoea, he said.
Mr Yawing said it was the first time that they had come across such a disease.
The flu was being treated with antibiotics and dysentery was being treated with anti-intestinal drugs, Mr Yawing said.
Right now, there is a serious case of shortage of both supplies and personnel.
Mr Yawing said he needed urgent Government and private sector help to contain the outbreak.
He has five health extension officers flown in from Lae including one from the Markham district.
If needed, he said, he would call on the neighbouring districts of Bulolo, Huon Gulf and Nawaeb for assistance.
Mr Yawing yesterday put in place a disaster management task force that included Menyamya district administrator Samson Aaron, health officers Sr Kava Somelato, who is the provincial matron, Lucy Dally, provincial STI coordinator, Lucy Mendali, Family planning and sexual health coordinator from provincial health office and Kome LLG manager Desmond Timiyaso.
He said yesterday the personnel were efficient but lacked support from the National Government.
Right now, they need to have rations for all health workers including aid post orderlies and policemen who are assisting.
He said they needed food, water, sleeping bags, torches, batteries, lamps and kerosene as well as diesel for the generators to be able to sustain their patrols.
They also need loudhailers to conduct awareness.
The workers also need to have detergents for their personal hygiene and to sanitise equipment.
Another major worrying factor for Mr Yawing is that the Menyamya health centre is below standard.
He is in a dilemma whether to shut it down or keep it open.
“The facilities are not fit for tending to the sick,” he said.
There is only one ward for all the patients.
He feared that contagious diseases could easily be spread.There are also no toilets and water supply.