HEALTH authorities this week made a prompt response to an outbreak of dysentery at Pamua National Secondary School in West Makira.
Members of the Health Promotion division, Environmental Health Division, Expansion Program of Immunisation and the Vector Borne Disease Division visited students and the school to assess the likely causes of the outbreak.
More than 26 cases of diarrhoea were reported, three of which were confirmed to be dysentery cases.
Reports from the school stated that it started in March and intensified thereafter.
Speaking on behalf of the health team, Hedson Taro confirmed that admitted cases has proved serious and sounded an emergency alarm to the health authorities.
“We went there to assess the diarrhoea cases, sanitation and the dining areas of the school,” he said.
“We found out that the causes were due to the school’s poor conditions.
“Sanitation and hygiene are major factors. There are no proper toilets and students have to resort to nearby beaches and bushes.
The damping sites has been long used since the School started way back in 1910 and no toilets has been built specifically for students.
Environmental Senior Supervising Health inspector Dudley Nixon Hurohavi said the outbreak may have linked to poor sanitation.
“The school needs to address the issues promptly to avoid any worse cases in the future.
“Accommodation is another factor where dormitories are not properly cleaned and the set up in dormitories are not good health wise.
“There is also lack of proper drainages and rubbish is openly damped. Every dormitory have roof leakages and students tied plastics to avoid rain.
“The students’ population also exceeded the capacity that the school is required to take which resulted in over crowdedness.
Commenting on that, Field officer of the Vector Borne Disease Division. Luke Osiwana said the risk of effective transmission of any disease is very high in this instance.
“On top of that, the everyday diet according to the students is rice, noodle and taiyo and for the whole of this year, there have never been any special diets or other food provided that the body system needed to function effectively for good health.
“The kitchen lucked quality. It lucks water in-house supply, lacks good food Storages and kitchen utensils. Assessments had proved that nearly all students never wash hands and only used hands to eat.
Kirakira Principle Health Promotion officer Dickson Maeiahowa, in his observation, said that the school kitchen “definitely” needs” refurbishment or replacement.
Hedson Taro had also confirmed that he noticed anaemia among many students and the diet was the cause.
The Deputy Principal Kenry Kwaioloa thanked the team for the visit and assessment.
“It is timely and on such bases can authorities make amends in terms of improvement to school facilities.
The team urged the Anglican Church of Melanesia which owns and runs the school to quickly upgrade the school to avoid any future casualties amongst students.
By Salinda .W. Maka’a
Solomon Star stringer