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Asia Crisis

Disease outbreak concerns after Indonesian quake

JAKARTA, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Health workers in Indonesia's quake-hit Sumatra are battling to contain local outbreaks of diarrhoea and dengue fever, and require more specialist equipment, officials and a doctor said on Monday.

The 7.6 magnitude quake, which struck on Sept. 30, killed at least 807 people and badly damaged health care facilities in the city of Padang and surrounding areas.

Around 10 percent of the region is still without a local health clinic, said Gde Yogadhita, the World Health Organisation's emergency field operations programme manager.

"There has been no widespread outbreak of disease yet, but we are seeing more cases of diarrhoea and dengue fever," he said, adding people were also suffering from tetanus and respiratory infections.

Matt Eckersley, an Australian doctor in Padang, said more specialists, such as burns experts, were needed to treat the victims.

"We have only two nurses per 50 people, and they are the same nurses who have been here since the beginning. They are exhausted," added, Ade Edward, head of West Sumatra's earthquake coordinating desk.

"We have enough medicine for this week but it will run out soon. We need four weeks supply in advance but now we only have enough for one week in advance."

The WHO's Gde Yogadhita said there was also a shortage of specialist equipment.

"We are trying to arrange new medical equipment, including machines that were already not working properly because of previous quakes." Padang, which lies in an extremely active seismic area, also suffered a serious quake in 2007.

The United Nations has launched a $38 million appeal to pay for shelter, restoration of water facilities, the fight against disease and other urgent humanitarian needs.

Many roads in rural areas such as Agam and Padang Pariaman are still cut off by landslides, and helicopters are making up to five food and aid drops a day to isolated survivors, Ade Edward said.

Editing by Ed Davies and Jeremy Laurence

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