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Disaster plan contains whooping cough outbreak in Oro Province

ORO PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

Gary Juffa with tribesmenTHE ORO PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT has said a potentially tragic outbreak of whooping cough in the Kira District has been contained by its rapid implementation of a disaster management policy.

The policy was put into place soon after Governor Gary Juffa took office, and had the help of AusAID funding of the Oro Administrations provincial health program.

The disaster management policy emphasised the need to respond in a speedy manner to disasters of any sort with necessary medical supplies and logistics.

So far, 10 infants have died in Kira since the outbreak was detected by a routine Oro Administration Health Patrol last November.

Four medical and disaster teams were dispatched to the District to assess and quarantine the area and treat infected people, mainly children.

“A government’s primary function is to save lives,” said Governor Juffa. “This means we need to move fast when disasters or disaster like events occur.

“The cumbersome government procurement and processing systems mean delays, and such delays cost lives; the slow processing of necessary paperwork has simply cost lives.

“This situation has existed since PNG obtained independence and our response systems nationwide are simply outdated and too slow.

“Fortunately, the AusAID-funded health programs, that are now earmarked for withdrawal, stepped in to assist us and prevent great loss of lives.”

Governor Juffa said this indicated a need for the national government to have in place such mechanisms for when the Australian government withdraws its aid assistance.

“Without Australian assistance, this outbreak would have had greater consequences,” Governor Juffa said. “This is due to the horrible situation where the PNG government virtually comes to a standstill when accounts come to a close for almost an entire two months in November - December.

“Fortunately the Provincial Government had put aside funds for such matters and fortunately the AusAID-funded programs were still running. We were thus able to dispatch fixed wing aircraft and helicopters and get four teams on the ground.”

The Governor commended his PEC Sector Adviser Herbert Isemba and the Oro Administration’s Disaster Management and Health Division for reacting as quickly as they could.

“Such incidents will lead to loss of lives if we are not prepared,” he said. “This is another indicator that our health system in PNG is not yet up and running.

“We need to certainly improve now that the Australian government intends to withdraw funding of K38 million per year.

“I am appalled at the loss of lives occurring throughout the country because of a ancient bureaucratic process that is cumbersome, inhumane and prone to inefficiency and wastage.”

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