Dengue fever outbreak hits Nauru sparking calls for restoration of health advisory panel

A dengue fever outbreak has gripped one of Australia's offshore processing centres in Nauru, raising serious questions about the welfare of asylum seekers on the island.

The mosquito borne disease has affected two asylum seekers and one site worker, the immigration department confirmed on Wednesday night.

"All three people have been isolated and are receiving appropriate treatment and are expected to make a full recovery," a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.

No pregnant women have been affected, and there is a "comprehensive mosquito control program" on the island, the spokeswoman said.

But the outbreak in the centre, which houses 1166 asylum seekers, has caused the Greens to renew their call for the restoration of an independent health advisory panel for offshore detention centres that was axed in December.

“The Australian government is forcing children and babies to live in the midst of a dengue fever outbreak,” Greens immigration spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“An independent panel of experts to oversee the medical and psychological health of refugees in these camps is an absolute necessity.

“Children should never have been locked up in these conditions and, with no independent medical access, the risk to their physical and mental health is extremely serious.''

Dr Louise Newman, the former chair of the Independent Immigration Health Advisory Group, said the latest outbreak was "gravely concerning" for women and children on the island.

"This is not a suitable environment for women and children to be transferred to Nauru, they would rather die than face having to care for their child there," she said.

Dr Newman said the government needed independent expert advice to help the provider and the department to manage the health of those in remote housing conditions.

Asylum seekers, including children, continue to be moved from Christmas Island to Nauru.

Follow us on Twitter

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop