#62: Three Great Ways To Catch Polio in Pom Siti

Since the outbreak was declared in PNG in mid June 2018, a dozen cases have been reported, and we are still counting.

One case has already been reported in Port Moresby’s 5 Mile.

But how does it spread and how can you get amongst the latest craze to sweep the nation?

Contrary to your friends giaman tingting, it is not like the flu. It is not an airborne pathogen.

The World Health Organisation understands Polio to be “transmitted by person-to-person, spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.”

Basically, this means yu abrus bai yu kaikai na end-of-story.

Here are a Three ways you can contract the Polio Virus in Port Moresby:

  1. Faecel-Oral Transmission
Source: Kol

The best way to contract Polio is to not practice good hygiene by washing your hands after using the toilet and then going to eat or prepare food. Yummy! Of course not every household in the city has running water or water for that matter.

In our informal urban housing situations, many might not have readily available water at their disposal for such a small task. But it is highly recommended though that an attempt be made to keep a flask to wash hands. (Faecel-Oral Transmission)

2. Oral-Oral Transmission

Another great way to contract Polio is through the sharing of buai, daka or simuk wantaim ol save pes lain na pasin blo “hap-kam yah” is a sure to help in spreading the Polio virus.

Some helpful wantok might feel obliged to husk a buai to pre-test before sharing it with you. Accept it at the risk of contracting Polio. The Polio virus can live in our saliva glands meaning it can be transmitted by sharing of things that go from mouth to mouth e.g. kissing (Oral-oral transmission). Or try stepping in spet buai or those foul looking pools of water stained thick red!

Source: Post-Courier Online

3. Through Contaminated Food (contaminated food system)

Source: PNGNews Online

No matter how hard we try to remain hygienic at home though PNGeans love to consume market foods because we were taught as children that it is the best food. Unfortunately, Port Moresby’s urban food system is questionable, particularly where those foods are exposed to the city’s waterways.

These waterways often get flooded during ol taim blo ren, mixing sewage wastewater with storm water – we’ve all seen man-holes bubbling away during heavy rains. Port Moresby has certain locations in the city that act as reservoirs for this excess storm water e.g. the lakes behind Morata. Many would also recognise these places as also being questionably fertile. Some of our favourite greens are grown there and sold into into our markets, eventually ending up on our plates.

It should raise a few eyebrows and prompt the question “What goes into the making of my food?”


-Hans Lee



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