World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Disease outbreaks threaten Papua New Guinea

Disease outbreaks threaten Papua New Guinea’s quake-hit communities – UN

In earthquake-hit Papua New Guinea, United Nations agencies on the ground are warning of a new looming threat: water-borne disease outbreaks, such as that of diarrhoea and measles.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a “high potential” of such outbreaks amid water contamination due to landslides, poor sanitation and personal hygiene management, and generally low vaccination coverage.

“At this stage of the emergency response, it is critical to restore the delivery of basic health services to the affected communities, such as the immunization of children,” said Dr. Luo Dapeng, the head of WHO operations in Papua New Guinea.

“We will continue to work closely with [national and provincial authorities] and partners to respond to these risks and to prevent a secondary emergency arising from disease outbreaks,” he added.

UNICEF and WHO are also stepping up the effort to improve water and sanitation systems and hygiene practices in affected areas. Specific projects include distribution of hygiene kits and water purification tablets, and setting up emergency pit latrines and rain water collection tanks.

The agencies have also created child-friendly spaces at temporary shelters so children can learn about good hygiene practices and ways to protect themselves from diseases.

Supporting the Government to conduct a measles and rubella immunization campaign in the earthquake-hit areas for children under the age of five is also a part of the multi-agency effort to curb the risk of potential outbreaks.

However, with children living in crowded shelters, ensuring their overall health is a major concern.

“We are really worried because a majority of children in the affected areas already have low immunity,” said Karen Allen, the head of UNICEF programmes in the country.

“Now, as they are living in the crowded shelters with poor-hygiene conditions, inadequate clean water and little knowledge to protect themselves, children are becoming much more vulnerable to diseases, including vaccine-preventable and water-borne diseases.”

More than 270,000 people – of them 125,000 children – remain dependent on humanitarian assistance across the Pacific island nation after it was hit by a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake in February.

The temblor was followed by a series of severe aftershocks throughout March, causing widespread damage to infrastructure and health services.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Chemical Weapons Attack (and Response) In Syria

The past week’s headlines about the chemical attacks in Syria – and the military response by the US, France and Britain – have tended to overshadow a few of the downstream outcomes. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: CTBTO Statement On Disarmament

I welcome the announcement by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to halt its nuclear testing programme and to dismantle the test site. This is a strong signal and an important step in the right direction. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific Moves: China, Vanuatu And Australia

Washington’s vigilant deputy, doing rounds on the beat in the Pacific, has been irate of late. The central issue here is the continuing poking around of China in an area that would have been colloquially termed in the past “Australia’s neighbourhood”. More>>

ALSO:

Diplomatic Madness: The Expulsion of Russian Diplomats

How gloriously brave it seemed, some 23 nations coming together like a zombie collective to initiate a fairly ineffectual action in of itself: the expulsion of Russian diplomats or, as they preferred to term it, intelligence operatives. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC