Over 100 die from illnesses

Main Stories, National


THE death toll from influenza and dysentery in Menyamya district and cholera in Tewai-Siassi district of Morobe province has gone past 100 with fears that the figure could be higher as medical teams return to Lae today with updated figures.
The worst affected mountainous area of Menyamya, in which the villages of Watama, Kataya, Wawaka, Akwanja and Ikumdi are located, is at the border of Morobe and Gulf provinces.
So far, the medical teams there had tallied 102 deaths from the Lagai village, Tamoi, Zipa, Kaingye, Anzua, Awapango, Angaibu, and Akwange.
In the village of Akwange, in which more than 27 people had died, about 200 villagers had been infected.
At Kwaplalim village, no deaths were reported but 109 people were diagnosed and were admitted to the Kwaplalim health centre.
Medical assistance was delivered since last Thursday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Department with provincial officers who flew into the area.
According to Kome LLG manager Desmond Timiyaso, the specialists flew direct to Akwange and Ikumdi villages and took specimens of the disease.
Additional medical supplies were received in Menyamya on Saturday.
Mr Timiyaso said the outbreak was placing a strain on the meagre staffing levels of the district.
Officers from other departments were being roped in to assist the medical teams, Mr Timiyaso added.
The separate outbreak of cholera in Tewai-Siassi on the northwest coast of the province had killed seven adults and sickened 73 other people, provincial health adviser Theo Likei told AFP news agency yesterday.
But Health Minister Sasa Zibe, who confirmed the outbreak at the weekend, put the death toll at more than 40, saying he had directed health officials to immediately contain its spread.
However, Nambariva village councillor Tom Less told The National yesterday that four people were confirmed dead out of 70 people admitted to Etep Health Centre in Wasu.
According to Cr Less and Wasu High School teacher Jerry Nema, 45 people from Nambariva and 27 from Lambutina were admitted.
The disease had started to spread to the Gitua at the Sialum council area, he said.
Cr Less said that according to 10 specimens received by the three WHO specialists, four were confirmed with having cholera. 
He said two boatloads of medical supplies were sent into the area to treat the patients.
This is the first time cholera has officially been confirmed in PNG.