THE spread of cholera in Papua New Guinea has highlighted the urgent need for additional support to tackle the outbreak, international aid agency Oxfam said yesterday.
The outbreak of cholera in PNG was reported last August and the World Health Organisation, to date confirmed that 2,000 people have been infected and 50 people have died.
Oxfam’s Sepik programme manager Andrew Rankin, said unless there was greater support to provide people with much needed clean water and sanitation, the water-based disease would continue to spread in PNG.
“Cholera has been spreading in PNG for more than six months.
“Oxfam is responding in the Sepik region by providing clean water, hygiene information and emergency supplies where we can help, but our resources are stretched.
“We need to tackle the root causes of the continuous spread of cholera.
“Oxfam is looking to focus on long-term solutions to water and sanitation problems in Sepik and to help reduce health risks for vulnerable communities in the future.
“Communities affected by the outbreak are in remote and difficult areas to reach.
“People live on marshlands, over water that is exposed to frequent contamination and tackling the root causes of the outbreak in conditions like these are very difficult, time consuming and costly,” Mr Rankin said.
Oxfam has received some emergency funding support from the Australian and New Zealand governments for its work in PNG.
“But efforts to provide sustainable improvements to communities will not be possible without long-term funding to properly address it at the communal levels.
“We urgently need more support from governments, both local and international, to properly tackle the disease.
“Otherwise, there is a real danger that cholera will continue to spread and become a recurring problem in PNG,” Mr Rankin said.