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PostSubject: Disease outbreak a concern   Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:52 pm

Disease outbreak a concern


JAKARTA - HEALTH workers in Indonesia's quake-hit Sumatra are battling to contain local outbreaks of diarrhoea and dengue fever, and require more specialist equipment, officials and a doctor said on Monday.

The 7.6 magnitude quake, which struck on Sept 30, killed at least 807 people and badly damaged health care facilities in the city of Padang and surrounding areas. Around 10 per cent of the region is still without a local health clinic, said Gde Yogadhita, the World Health Organisation's emergency field operations programme manager.

'There has been no widespread outbreak of disease yet, but we are seeing more cases of diarrhoea and dengue fever,' he said, adding people were also suffering from tetanus and respiratory infections.

Matt Eckersley, an Australian doctor in Padang, said more specialists, such as burns experts, were needed to treat the victims. 'We have only two nurses per 50 people, and they are the same nurses who have been here since the beginning. They are exhausted,' added, Ade Edward, head of West Sumatra's earthquake coordinating desk.

'We have enough medicine for this week but it will run out soon. We need four weeks supply in advance but now we only have enough for one week in advance.'

The WHO's Gde Yogadhita said there was also a shortage of specialist equipment. 'We are trying to arrange new medical equipment, including machines that were already not working properly because of previous quakes.' Padang, which lies in an extremely active seismic area, also suffered a serious quake in 2007. -- REUTERS
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