Why Is the Current Cholera Outbreak In PNG Still Continuing?

Since the cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea more than 12 months ago there seem to be no containment of the problem.

Cholera is a disease associated with poverty, poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. It is estimated that 2-3 million people are affected annually, mainly in Africa and Asia. Now include Oceania! I am not sure how many people have died since the outbreak but my guestimation would be between 20o-300 people. Although large sums of money has been committed to contain the problem – especially in the capital city of Papua New Guinea – Port Moresby, cases are still coming. One begins to wonder what actually is the cholera task force doing.

With the rapid expansion of Port Moresby in the construction business, the squatter settlements are also rapidly increasing and expanding as people pour into the city seeking to get a bite of the LNG cake. And there lies the breeding ground of diseases outbreaks such as cholera. With the National Health Department’s focus on rural health, I think the squatters should also be considered in the plans. In fact squatter settlements are now considered as part of rural people because the conditions are no different from the villages.

If those tasked with cholera outbreak in the National capital of PNG put in a concentrated and sustained effort, I am sure the outbreak can be contained. More importantly, in the long-term, a plan on improving or providing safe drinking water and advice on good sanitation practises for squatter settlements and urban villages should be made and implemented. If not done, problems such as the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases will continue to occur.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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