ASRC witnesses first hand rapid deterioration in Manus men’s health, preventable deaths imminent.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s (ASRC) advocacy team spent time inside the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) this week where 421 men remain, some of whom are clients being case managed in our detention advocacy program.

There are now over 150 seriously ill men, many with chronic conditions, whom the other men in the centre are caring for without access to even basic first aid or medicine. The situation is a medical emergency.

The ASRC finds it extraordinary and contrary to the health care provider’s previous practice that in mid-October, men who were on prescribed medication were handed a month’s worth of medication to self-monitor, while for almost five years of incarceration at the RPC, men were given one tablet at a time.

That medication is now running out.

Deteriorating conditions needing urgent care include chest pains, undiagnosed episodes of unconsciousness, kidney stones, seizures, infected cuts, ear and eye infections, skin abscesses, skin rashes, chronic diahorrea, gastric problems, major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and other serious mental health conditions.

After viewing the footage obtained inside the camp by the ASRC, former Australian of the year Professor Patrick McGorry commented ‘I am really concerned that there will be an outbreak of severe infectious disease very quickly in those conditions. Deaths from physical illness are very likely and could be in large numbers if severe infections break out.’

‘From a mental health perspective (and my own experience of working for 30 years with people seeking asylum) a perfect storm is building with now unmedicated patients with severe depression who are now experiencing withdrawal symptoms from their antidepressants and at the same time have lost the protective benefits of the medicine’.

‘Preventable deaths seem not only inevitable but imminent.’ said Professor McGorry.

A lack of clean water to drink, no water to flush or clean toilets and (at most) only one meal a day is greatly contributing to the sick men’s rapid deterioration and need for urgent medical evacuation.

Advocacy and Campaigns Director, Jana Favero said, “The deteriorating state of the men’s bodies was obvious to me as I was shown around. This is a medical emergency festering inside a humanitarian crisis.’

‘It’s hard to believe the suffering of people seeking asylum could get any worse after five gruelling years of imprisonment in inadequate facilities under unbearable conditions on Manus, where six men have died since 2013. But it has.’

ASRC CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis said ‘Our independence enabled us to go in to bear witness to the humanitarian crisis unfolding inside the Manus RPC. We did this to try and help facilitate an end to this crisis by highlighting the urgent need for access to water, food and medical care to the men and importance of safe resettlement as a matter of critical priority’.

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