THE National Court appointed specialist consultant in clinical and public health, Paul Crouch Chivas, to examine and evaluate the provision of health services at the Manus asylum seekers processing centre.
He has found that the quality of curative health care available to transferees and support staff appears to be excellent.
Except that the high rate of smoking among the transferees shows a lack of input into health promotion and a lack of effective centre policies on smoking.
The review, according to Dr Chivas, was a brief one where he examined the following key public health elements which, if found lacking or deficient, would significantly influence the health of the transferees at the centre.
The elements were the water supply, human waste disposal, garbage disposal, shelter and accommodation, food supply, vector control and medical services – curative, preventive and promotive.
In his findings on the water supply, he found that drinking water is exclusively from bottled water, which comes by sea from Port Moresby. Water for showers, toilets, hand basins and laundry comes from desalinated seawater, the intake for which is some 500 metres from the camp. All water supplies appear to be protected and of adequate volume. For human waste disposal, sewerage leaves the ablution blocks of the four main centre accommodation areas and mixes with grey water from other areas and is treated by aeration only.
The Oscar camp has its own separate treatment plant but sewerage from other areas is pumped to and joins the existing defence force sewerage pipes near the centre perimeter.
For shelter and accommodation, Dr Chivas found that accommodation for transferees is of a variable standard, commensurate with the staged development of the centre. Older accommodation is in four-bed, converted containers, each row of containers connected by a central, covered walkway.
At one area the floor is a grill with the inevitable collection of garbage beneath it. In Oscar area, there are 40 double-bed dormitories. These areas appear overcrowded. Most sleeping areas are air-conditioned although some older accommodation rooms have only fans. Bedding is provided. All accommodation areas appear weather proof. He said: "I am concerned about the fire risk in Oscar accommodation."
For the food supply, most food comes refrigerated or frozen from Port Moresby by sea. Some local produce is purchased. Each dining area had its own hot food serving area until the disturbances some weeks ago.
PNG staff are prohibited from entering these areas to serve food and food is prepared in a central kitchen and delivered in plastic containers to the transferees. Plastic waste is then collected and added to the garbage. The food, mainly Hallal, appears adequate in quality and quantity but a detailed nutritional analysis of the food was not conducted.
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