15 Oct 2021

PNG desparately needs overseas help to fight Covid-19

7:17 pm on 15 October 2021
A health worker takes a swab from a man to test for Covid-19 at a makeshift clinic in Port Moresby on 1 April, 2021.

Photo: AFP

Papua New Guinea is seeking more international medical support to combat Covid-19.

PNG's government has admitted it's been slow to react to the pandemic and local people have been too complacent.

The World Health Organisation Incident Manager in PNG, Angela Merianos,

The World Health Organisation Incident Manager in PNG, Angela Merianos, Photo: Supplied

The World Health Organisation co-ordinates emergency medical teams, and PNG's Incident Manager, Angela Merianos, said they're hoping more teams will be sent from overseas to help in the Highland provinces.

"Which is really, at the moment, Provinces that are reporting a larger surge in cases and unfortunately they are reporting an increasing number of deaths. The Port Moresby hospital is another location mentioned but the real priority at the moment is support to the Highlands Provinces," she said.

Vaccination levels in Papua New Guinea remain negligible placing huge pressure on the health system.

PNG govt must it improve Covid-19 vaccine communication

A researcher at the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute said the government must improve its Covid-19 vaccine communication strategy.

Eugene Ezebilo said the current strategy is not working and the correct information is not reaching the target population.

Dr Ezebilo said since most people live in rural areas there should be consultation with religious leaders to have them pass the message on.

Similar approaches can be made to community leaders and highly respected people in the communities.

Ezebilo believes a number of other steps that should be taken such as involve doctors by having the vaccine provided at hospitals.

Dr Eugene Ezebilo

Dr Eugene Ezebilo Photo: Supplied

"Provide a "questions and answers platform" where Covid-19 vaccine experts can answer questions about the virus and vaccine from the general public," he said.

Provide more factual information about Covid-19 vaccine on the radio and TV, newspapers and social media. Send reminders about the need to take Covid-19 vaccine to people through text messages, e-mails, social media and in-person.

He adds that as most people in PNG live in rural areas where there are little or no healthcare facilities, there is a need to consider using mobile clinics to access the areas for vaccination and provide more Covid-19 vaccination centres especially in rural areas.

"More vaccines should be moved to rural areas where majority of the country's population is," he said.

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