By JEFFREY ELAPA
WHOOPING cough outbreak in the Inapang area, in the Middle-Ramu electorate, Madang province, has claimed the lives of three children in the past 10 months.
Volunteer health extension officer Patrick Angrai, who is now engaged with the provincial cholera treatment centre in Madang, told The National that more than 6,000 people of the seven council wards were affected by the contagious epidemic since the outbreak was reported early last year.
“Many deaths had gone unreported but the three children under the age of five were reported to have died of the epidemic by health officials.
“Although the outbreak was reported to the health authorities, nothing was done as the authorities classified the cases as a mild and normal cough despite numerous reports sent for immediate action,” he said.
He said council wards one to six and wards 19 were severely affected as the outbreak continued to spread to neighbouring villages.
Mr Angrai said the health authorities now believed to be acting on the outbreak after it was reported by missionaries in the area.
The Catholic church and the provincial authorities met this week and a team of health officers will be flown in to assess, and probably treat those affected.
They will also be providing immunisation for the people.
Josephstall is one of the most isolated and disadvantaged districts like other districts in the electorate with hardly any Government services reaching the people.
Poor health facilities have been a major problem for many mothers and their children as they needed to walk many days before reaching the main roads of Madang in search of better health care.
Among them was a mother who lost her New Year twins after she was placed on a mercy flight to Madang.
Just a day after Nancy Koreim’s story appeared in the paper a week ago, another mother and her new born babies died an hour after delivery.
Mr Angrai confirmed that Julie Armund, 35, was carried on a stretcher to Temandapor Airport with labour problems for four hours before reaching the Josephstall health centre, which is run by four community health workers without a health extension officer.
He said the mother arrived at the centre at about 7pm and gave birth at noon but both mother and baby died due to severe anemia in pregnancy.