By DAISY TANIOVA PAWA
INTERNATIONAL aid agency Oxfam has called for greater support from donors to assist the hundreds of people that have been affected by the outbreak of cholera in East Sepik province.
Oxfam’s Sepik programme manager Andrew Rankin said reports indicated that the number of cases had accumulated to 343 with a number of new cases in the provincial capital of Wewak.
Mr Rankin said the people affected by the outbreak needed broader support to ensure that they were not discriminated and could be able to earn a living and support themselves.
He said it was also important that local communication and trade links remained open between affected communities and other parts of the province so that life could remain as normal as possible.
“If communities become isolated due to fear and stigma, this will hurt vulnerable people the most,” Mr Rankin said.
He said that many people were fearful and worried over the outbreak, and it was important that they get immediate help to deal with the outbreak.
“All communities in Sepik need to have clear information about how to prevent and contain the spread of cholera, so that incorrect and confusing information is dispelled.”
Mr Rankin said the best way people in Sepik could prevent the spread of cholera was to follow the five Fs– which are boiling water for five minutes; eating properly cooked food and avoid cooked food sold at open markets; wash hands with soap and ash, at least 20 seconds after visiting the toilet and before handling food; covering foods from flies and properly disposing of faeces in pit latrines or covering the faeces with sand or soil.
Oxfam International is currently addressing the outbreak by distributing emergency hygiene kits to the affected people, helping them access clean water, and providing information about public hygiene.
Mr Rankin said more support from donors would ensure that the outbreak of cholera did not spread further. Oxfam International is working closely with other agencies and local authorities to contain the outbreak.
Mr Rankin said “cholera spreads quickly and the challenges involved in reaching remote communities mean we need all stakeholders – local and national governments, donors and other agencies – to focus their efforts on tackling the outbreak quickly and to ensure that the affected people get the support they need.