WALLIS AND FUTUNA – Officials in Wallis and Futuna have held an urgent meeting to discuss the spread of dengue. In November, an epidemic was declared over the mosquito-borne disease in the south of Wallis, but officials have now confirmed it has spread to the centre of the island. The public broadcaster reports that a meeting has been held behind closed doors involving officials from the health and environment sector as well as local chiefs. It reports there is no cause for panic as the same advice is being given, asking people to try to destroy the breeding areas of the mosquitoes.
PRIVATE DOCTORS JOIN NOUMEA STRIKE
NEW CALEDONIA – Private doctors in New Caledonia will go on strike today joining medical staff of Noumea’s three private hospitals. The strike, which will involve both general practitioners and specialists, will put increased pressure on Noumea’s public hospital. The doctors said their action would give New Caledonia a taste of what it’s like without private doctors. They said for years they had been asking for a serious analysis of the malfunctioning in the health care system. The clinics started their strike last week amid concern that reimbursements had not been adjusted for years, which they say puts their viability at risk. The dispute comes amid concern over the financial state of the public health care system because of its growing deficit.
ABORIGINALS CALL FOR RECOGNITION
VANUATU – A group of people living in Vanuatu say they are being discriminated against because of their Aboriginal ancestry and are calling for official recognition from Australia. The Australian newspaper quoted one of them, Vanuatu policeman Pakoa Rudy Rolland, as saying the problem had become so bad that more than 480 Aboriginal descendants on Tongariki were living as second-class citizens with restricted access to land and education. The group is believed to have descended from Aborigines taken back to Vanuatu by sugar plantation workers, who themselves had been blackbirded, or enslaved by Queensland plantation owners in the 19th century. A forum was this weekend at the University of South Australia to examine the issue.