AUSTRALIAN foreign minister Kevin Rudd has announced additional assistance to Papua New Guinea in response to the cholera outbreak on Daru island in Western.
The same day, High Commissioner Ian Kemish and AusAID officers in PNG flew to Daru to assess the situation, taking along 400kg of medical supplies made up of 4,000 aqua tablets, 300 water containers, 500 doses of oral rehydration salts and 190 litres of intravenous fluid.
Rudd said the additional A$500,000 in aid meant clean water for villages, essential medical supplies and additional Australian water and sanitation experts on the ground.
“Australia remains concerned about cases in the hinterland around Daru Island, with potential for further spread of the disease,” he said.
Rudd said Australian support would fund activities now and into the future, to prevent the spread of the disease into villages, through basic hygiene education and awareness as well as treatment activities.
The announcement brought Australia’s comprehensive support to A$1 million to national and provincial health authorities in their cholera response and to fund flights to Daru to ensure vital supplies reached those affected.
Apart from AusAID, the Australian Red Cross, working with the PNG Red Cross, would receive A$150,000 from Canberra to provide clean drinking water and conduct community health awareness activities.
Rudd said containing the outbreak was important.
“We are sending more supplies of intravenous fluids, oral salts and water purification tablets as well as emergency experts.
“They will assist the PNG government assess the spread of cholera.”
He said for the longer term, Australia and Papua New Guinea had agreed to a new project in Western to provide clean water to a number of villages along the coast of Papua New Guinea, adjacent to the Torres Strait.
In September last year and July this year, Australia provided A$1.7 million in response to previous cholera outbreaks and ongoing support to WHO to respond to future outbreaks.
The funding was for medical supplies and staff to assist the Health Department and WHO.