10 November 2017
The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Heaptitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), a peak, profession-based membership society supporting the HIV, viral hepatitis and sexual health workforce in Australia New Zealand and Asia-Pacific regions (including PNG) expresses grave concern to the Australian government regarding the unfolding humanitarian emergency on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Approximately 600 males remain in the Australian-built detention centre, 10 days after it was officially closed. Recent reports have described squalid and unhygienic conditions exacerbated by a lack of food, power and water supplies on-site since the centre closed.
As this situation has deteriorated while the 2017 Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences took place this week in Canberra, ASHM noted the concern of a number of delegates and members (health professionals, researchers, community and community health representatives). They sounded the alarm about a range of health threats including those related to blood-borne viruses and co-infection risks in a community where tuberculosis, hepatitis and malaria are prevalent.
There is a long-standing precedent within the medical community to stand up for human rights of refugees and asylum seekers held on Manus and Nauru Island, with numerous medical professional bodies already making statements that denounce the adverse and detrimental health effects on individuals held in prolonged, indeterminate detention. ASHM endorses the concerns of health professionals and partners in our own sector and urges the Australian government to act immediately.