Health Ministry deploys team to Anuta after reports of dysentery

(SIG/GCU Release): The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is actively investigating reports of a dysentery outbreak on the remote Anuta Island, Temotu Province.

Reports of the outbreak first appeared on SIBC Radio last week. An elder in the community told SIBC and Lata Hospital that there have been 37 suspected cases of dysentery, resulting in the deaths of four children.

In response, the Ministry activated the National Disaster Operations Committee for Health (NDOC-Health) and deployed a team of health workers from Lata hospital to the island.

“We have deployed a team of highly qualified health workers who are expected to arrive in Anuta on Friday,” said Dr Gregory Jilini, acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry.

“The team will be working quickly provide essential health services, investigate possible causes of illnesses, and put in place measures to control any ongoing health risk.”

“At this stage, we are unable to confirm the cause of the illnesses but we strongly advise the community in Anuta to be alert and take extra care protect their health during this time.”

The Ministry advises all people on Anuta Island to take extra care to:

  • boil water before drinking,
  • wash hands regularly,
  • always wash hands after defecating, and before eating or preparing food,
  • cover food from flies, and
  • Store and cook food carefully.

“All people of Solomon Islands should be doing these things at all times to protect their health,” added Dr Jilini.

The remote, isolated island is hard to reach regularly and is currently without a health facility or a dedicated health worker.

The Ministry said that it will be using the response to also build relationships with the community in Anuta and advocate for health services on the island.

“I want to commend NDOC-Health and those involved in the response, including the World Health Organization, for their efforts so far.”

“This was a big test of our emergency response systems and I am glad to report that they are working well and improving rapidly.”

The Ministry will provide the public an update on the situation once the response team carries out an assessment.