PNG: Water, food, medicines critically low in Guba affected areas (5 Dec report)
The health sector response team also identified other major problems as follows:
- Unavailability of maternal and child health services due to damage to equipment and transport network;
- Limitation of assessment and medical evacuation activities to areas accessible by air, and only when flights are available;
- Lack of funds to remunerate staff working extended hours;
- Lack of 4-WD vehicles for staff movement and health patrols.
The Minister relayed these findings to the National Executive Council and the Department of Health has made an appeal for help to all branches of government.
During their visit to the affected areas three weeks after the cyclone, the Health Minister's team noted that although flooding has subsided, low lying areas were still submerged in deep mud. Collapsed bridges have not been restored and driving is done through the riverbeds. Shipping has not normalized and the airline company may completely withdraw its services to the province.
The health sector response team has drawn an action plan that is estimated to cost US$ 2.2 million (PGK 6.5 million). The plan covers immediate to medium-term interventions that include:
- Improving hospital emergency and pathology departments;
- Providing back-up water tanks for hospitals and replacement water tanks for health centers;
- Providing fuel supply and hiring transport equipment;
- Paying overtime and allowances to health workers, and recruitment of casuals;
- Procuring materials and supplies; and
- Rehabilitating washed out and damaged facilities.
The team recommended to the Executive Council the immediate release of funds needed for the continuation of relief and restoration of basic services. It also acknowledged the support of the Australian government as it appealed for further support in distributing relief supplies and restoring infrastructure.
Oro Province has a population of 143,831, all of whom had been affected by Guba's heavy rains and floods. An estimated 50,000 people had lost their homes and been forced to flee (see previous update).
Source: PNG MoH Report on the Findings of the Health Minister's Visit to Cyclone Guba Affected Areas of the Oro Province, 5 December 2007