People must report skin diseases to prevent spread

A community member of Worauloa, on Efate Island has raised concerns about what she says is a “high number” of skin sores on children in that area.

The community member, Easuary Deamer, says, she has filed a report to the Ministry of Health calling on them to address the issue.

Ms Deamer says she became aware of the numbers of children with skin sores when she was running children’s classes in the community.

She says, she believed the sores maybe the result of a serious infectious disease – Yaws, but health authorities have since ruled this out.

The Ministry of Health has sent officers to the community to make rapid tests to check if the sores are Yaws.

Mackline Garae, the National Coordinator of Neglected Tropical Disease, says another bacterium has caused the sores but they have carried out some treatment.

Ms Garae says they are advising children must use soap every time they bath. And after they swim in the sea, they must rinse themselves with soap and water.

She says the Ministry of Health Health Ministry has advised the Environment Department to run some tests on the sea water in the area to see whether it is safe for kids to swim in it.

Two Indian doctors who have been in Vanuatu were asked by Mrs Deamer to assist in  identifying some causes of the increasing number of cases of the sores.

The doctors say lack of proper hygiene practices and the rubbish in the environment the children live in like the sea area where the Temporary Domestic Wharf is located, have been identified as some causes to the increasing number of cases of the sores.

Doctor Krunal Samteke and Pooja Samteke have also helped to run hygiene awareness activities in the community, focused on how children could look after themselves.

Dr Krunal Samteke says they have taught the parents and children to reduce the risk of sores with simple hygiene practices like good washing and cleaning of the sores and good hand washing to prevent their spread.

The Ministry of Health’s Ms Garae, has praised the initiative of the community member who made the report on this health issue.

She says even though these cases of sores were found not to be caused by Yaws, they want communities to alert them if they find big sores on children so they can be treated and prevented.

The Vanuatu Ministry of Health is serious about preventing and eliminating the Yaws and other infectious skin diseases.

Yaws mainly affects children aged six to ten years who have poor access to clean water and toilets, washing facilities and health care.

Yaws mainly affects the skin, but can also involve the bone and cartilage and can sometimes cause serious disfigurement and disability.

The Ministry of Health has a current program to eliminate the disease in Vanuatu.

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