UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla believes that the general public health communications and system strengthening, undertaken throughout the outbreak of the virus in PNG, will assist to place the “local health system on a better platform to combat future pandemics.”
Ahead of World Immunization Week which begins on 24 April, he explains why.
“On Friday, I obtained my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is unbelievable to assume that in a little over a yr for the reason that WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a vaccine has been developed and is being administered right here in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Of course, I’m in Port Moresby and am receiving my vaccine at a personal hospital. Ensuring vaccines can be found to communities across the nation would be the true check.
Reaching distant communities
I’ve been lucky throughout my time in PNG to have the ability to journey to a few of the planet’s most original and weak landscapes. When I journey, I’m continually reminded of simply how distant some communities in PNG really are.
North Fly is an space in PNG’s Western Province, bordering Indonesia. The space was one of many first to report circumstances of COVID and now has one of many highest counts of COVID-19 circumstances in the nation.
It can be residence to a few of the most difficult-to-reach communities in the area and hosts asylum seekers. Some riverside communities are solely inaccessible throughout the dry season.
UN Papua New Guinea/Rachel Donovan
At the beginning of the pandemic, I visited Rumginae Hospital, a referral hospital about an hour’s drive from the area’s main city of Kiunga, to talk with Dr Kevin Pondikou – the hospital’s solely physician – and his employees.
Dr Kevin confirmed us the storerooms which had been working low on private protecting tools (PPE). A brand new diagnostic machine was sitting in a field as a result of journey restrictions meant the technician had not been capable of journey to put in it.
Just a few weeks after this go to, colleagues from UNFPA returned to Rumginae. A younger girl got here in affected by shock. She had delivered a child three weeks earlier in her village with out a midwife or any medical assist.
Bleeding closely, she and her mom walked for near someday to achieve the help put up at Mougolou, from the place she was airlifted to Kiunga after which dropped at Rumginae the place she obtained a blood transfusion.
Healthcare suppliers just like the staff at Rumginae had been stretching their assets to deal with sufferers even earlier than a surge in circumstances in February 2021. Preventing extreme issues from COVID is important to holding this hospital open.
We have obtained 132,000 vaccines by means of the COVAX Facility. Despite the unbelievable achievement in bringing a vaccine to so many growing nations inside such a brief time, this cargo arrived too late for the 91 individuals, together with considered one of our colleagues, who had died from COVID-19 in PNG up till mid-April. [see the WHO COVID-19 dashboard here for the latest figures]
© UNICEF/Vatava Media
Additionally, that cargo contained lower than half of the 288,000 vaccines that PNG was initially assigned. We have to push for higher distribution of vaccines to essentially the most weak.
And that doesn’t finish with a photograph op at Port Moresby’s Jacksons Airport. It ends when each particular person in this half island nation of seven.4 million has been given the selection to get the vaccine.
Focusing on alternatives
Reaching communities like Rumginae is in fact a main problem, however an achievable one. In 2018, WHO and UNICEF vaccinated 3.1 million youngsters in opposition to polio inside solely a few months of an outbreak being introduced.
The problem we’ve got on our palms with COVID is that the virus and the vaccine are new, resulting in important skepticism and vaccine hesitancy. As extra younger persons are related to the web, vaccine conspiracy spreads like wildfire. Rumors attain these communities earlier than we are able to.
However, to give attention to the dimensions of this problem ignores the alternatives. The public health info we share now – on how a virus is unfold and on how vaccines work – units us and the native health system on a higher platform to fight future pandemics.
We are constructing a vocabulary that can assist us sort out current challenges like TB and HIV/AIDS.
Passing the check
Funding to the COVID response has enabled IOM and UNICEF to construct water services in North Fly, and to assist the districts most weak.
We have additionally demonstrated, on the regional and international degree, that PNG has pals all around the world who’re prepared and prepared step as much as assist. Development companions and the personal sector have donated tonnes of PPE, testing kits and lab consumables, medical units and personnel, and vaccines.
This pandemic is testing our capability for cooperation and I consider it’s a check we are going to go”.
The UN Resident Coordinator, generally known as the RC, is the highest-ranking consultant of the UN growth system on the nation degree. In this occasional collection, UN News is inviting RCs to blog on points necessary to the United Nations and the nation the place they serve.
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