Pupils sick at crowded schools


WATER and foodborne diseases have been common among pupils of Dregerhafen Secondary School, in Finschhafen, Morobe, for about five weeks, a health officer says.
“We have 18 cases of diarrhoea in just five weeks,” Morobe environmental health officer Zambuna Gina said. “Apart from that we have many cases of stomachaches.
“Others are skin diseases but we are worried about diseases that could result in death.”
Classes were suspended indefinitely on Monday until issues of overcrowding, poor water supply system, poor mess and toilet facilties and ablution blocks were addressed.
A grade 11 pupil said food shortage was a problem.
“Sometimes boarding students go a day without food because there are too many of us,” the student, who wished not to be named, said.
“The food is not prepared in a healthy way and most students get sick too.
“To make things worse, in some grade 11 classes there are like 86 of us and six of us sit on one desk. We try to learn as much as we can.”
One of the two health workers at Dreger aid post said that on average about 200 patients, both students and those from the surrounding villages, were treated each month.
“The school needs a major upgrade, and even this tiny health facility,” the health worker said.
“Because of overcrowding, the students are at ahigh risk of spreading diseases.”