PAPUA New Guinea is a country prone to countless various natural and man-made disasters, with 44 active volcanoes around the country leaving it highly vulnerable to earthquakes whose secondary effects include tsunamis and landslides, a departmental secretary said yesterday at the Holiday Inn.
Deputy secretary for monitoring and technical services and Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs Tau Vali said this was due to the county being situated on the margins of tectonic plates in the region.
The coastal areas were also prone to tropical cyclones, heavy rains and flooding, where a high reliance on rainfall for agricultural activities leaves the population vulnerable to droughts, while less rain results in droughts that would threaten widespread crop failure.
Mr Vali was speaking at the launch of the 2009 International Day of Natural Disaster Reduction campaign.
He said at the moment, the National Disaster Centre had set up a working committee in partnership with NARI, Fire services, weather services, UPNG geo-physicists and others to develop a national disaster protocol.
This disaster protocol was a way of getting people at the community level organised in the event of a disaster so that they would know where to go, who to contact and how to evacuate the premises, so everyone moves at the same time and no one panics.
He said the drafts would be taken to the provinces for critiquing and testing on the documents, which he hoped would eventually lead to the Government endorsing it.
With the theme “Hospitals safe from disasters,” Mr Vali said this day was an important day because disaster risk reduction, was everyone’s business and unsafe hospitals were potentially damaging to everyone.
Mr Vali called on all relevant authorities in communities, the public and in decision making and implementing positions to join the campaign to make the hospitals and health facilities throughout the country safe from disasters.
He said when disasters strike, aid agencies, communities, the media and governments would focus immediately on the victims.
And if the focus on the victims was to have real meaning, “we must prioritise a deeper understanding and support for medical care”.