By Hera Hoi – EM TV Online
There have been several reports of a measles outbreak in Port Moresby and in other parts of Papua New Guinea since October 2013. The latest one is reported to be from the Highlands Region, understood to be in Chimbu Province.
The Papua New Guinea Department of Health says they’re confident they can contain the measles outbreak that has already killed six people.
The first reported cases came from West Sepik that quickly spread into other parts of Papua New Guinea in October 2013.
In July 2014, NCD Health Services had confirmed that the measles outbreak in Port Moresby was spreading in urban areas, and there had been nine confirmed positive by the Central Public Health Laboratory at Port Moresby General Hospital.
By September 2014, Madang had reported 10 deaths, and more than 1700 confirmed cases of the viral disease.
The recent reported cases in the Highlands region has received a quick response from Papua New Guinea’s Department of Health as they have sent a team with vaccines and medicines to cater for the outbreak that is said to be in Chimbu Province.
The department’s preventable diseases surveillance officer, Barry Ropa told Radio New Zealand that it is due to the remoteness of the area that the outbreak has spread so far.
“The population is nomadic and it will be difficult for the health workers but I think actually when you go to a remote place like this, they get a message that health workers are coming, they just come together (to be treated and vaccinated). In the province they’ve been there before so they’ve sent a team over there. So I think they’ll be over there for a week or two to deliver the vaccines and treat those who are ill,” Ropa told Radio New Zealand.
As measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to humankind and an important cause of death and disability among children worldwide, WHO cautions for those unvaccinated against the disease are at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation) and blindness.
WHO recommends that every child receive two doses of measles vaccine to ensure immunity and prevent outbreaks.