Solomon Islands dengue outbreak spreading around the country | Pacific Beat

Solomon Islands dengue outbreak spreading around the country

Solomon Islands dengue outbreak spreading around the country

Updated 9 April 2013, 17:10 AEST

The Dengue Fever outbreak in Solomon Islands is continuing to spread with cases now appearing around the country.

The first cases appeared after the country was hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunami in January now there are over 2,000 infected people.

Australia and New Zealand have sent medical teams to Honiara to help fight the epidemic.

Caroline Tiriman asked the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Doctor Lester Ross about developments.

Presenter: Caroline Tiriman

Speaker: Dr Lester Ross, Permanent Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health in Solomon Islands


ROSS: Most of the cases reported are in Honiara, the capital, however we have cases that have been reported in several of our provinces too, leading the reporting is from Western Province followed by Guadalcanal province and Malaita province. However we now have also reports that are coming in from Isabel province as well as Choiseul and Temotu province. So it appears that the dengue outbreak has spread to the provinces now, and so far only three people have been confirmed dead from the dengue fever outbreak. And we think that the dengue outbreak is still increasing because of the epidemiological information that has been collected through the surveillance system.
TIRIMAN: Dr Lester because a lot of the assistance is targeting sufferers in Honiara, what's happening with assistance for those in the rural areas or provinces like Western province and the others that you've spoken about?
ROSS: We have a team with the assistance of the Australian medical team that came over visiting the provinces, especially the big number of cases that have come in. So they have visited all the provinces and seen the situation there, talked to the people in the hospital and also the vector borne disease control people. And the other thing that we're doing as well is that we're bringing in the provincial health directors and as well as the nurses from the province to undergo training that is currently being provided by specialists from World Health Organisation and SPC. So that is what's happening at the moment, and we are hoping, because the rain has slowed down as well, we're in the rainy season but it appears that the rain is slowing down which will also be very helpful to reduce the breeding sites of the Aedes mosquito that is currently transmitting the disease.
TIRIMAN: Dr Lester the Australian and New Zealand medical teams have arrived there, how important is their assistance to your work there?
ROSS: Well we were really busy, especially the hospitals and the clinic in Honiara, people were very busy, our doctors and nurses, therefore we requested assistance from both the Australian and the New Zealand High Commission and we're so happy that they've responded very fast to the request. And we have a team now on the ground, we have nine Australians and two New Zealanders, a team consists of doctors, nurses, medical laboratory technicians and logistic officers. So they're helping us in first of all providing relief to our over-worked nurses and doctors, and at the same time checking out the procedures that we have and facilities to see how we can continue to not only to address the current situation, but to develop a system in place that will improve on how we can manage similar situations if they arise in the future. So we're so thankful to the Australian and New Zealand governments for the fast positive response that has been given to us during this dengue outbreak.
TIRIMAN: Is the National Referral hospital coping with the high number of people coming in for medical treatment?
ROSS: Well at the moment one of the wards is dedicated specifically to dengue fever patients, as well as the triage system in the outpatient is also. There's a specific desk for people who have dengue. So still the hospital has continued to suspend all the normal routine cases and we hope that with the assistance of the visiting team from Australia, we should be able to quickly reassess the situation and hopefully go back to providing routine services that were suspended because of the increased number of cases that we have been experiencing.

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