Thursday 5 November 2020
Prime Minister Hon. James Marape today announced a decision by the National Executive Council to approve K10.2 million to assist in COVID-19 drug research.
At the same time, funds will also be used on procurement of sample drugs, development of research laboratories and trial of drugs if approved by the Health Department.
However, the fund envelope approved is not for the company, Niugini Biomed, but the programme that will be properly supervised by relevant State authorities.
Meantime the bulk of the K10.2 million would be channelled towards rebuilding of science faculty laboratories in UPNG for this work and future research.
Niugini Biomed, a company formed by a group of Papua New Guinean doctors and scientists, was established to pursue research into a COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
“Based on their research, they established a hypothesis that they can find a cure for COVID-19.
“I am not here to stop ingenuity and brilliance of Papua New Guineans; hence, we offer our support but we will do it properly through a State-sanctioned process.
Prime Minister Marape said this was not a decision that would give a cheque of K10.2m to the proponents, but for the entire work to start.
“That involves the Health Department, University of PNG, PNG Institute of Medical Research and others for their collaboration,” he said.
“If the medical and scientific community, through peer review, gives okay, then the next phase of the work that will involve drugs procurement and laboratory mix and trial, etc, will be proceed.”
Mr Marape further urged local doctors, and scientists all to look into the area of science and research as a pursuit of economic value too.
“We have been having conferences and symposiums for 45 years, let us now move into the next phase for actual discoveries of cures.”
Prime Minister Marape believes Papua New Guinea has sufficient intellectual capacity in the country for such a pursuit, and it may not be just for COVID-19, but any other human and animal medicines or plant pesticides into the future.
“Tell me I am dreaming again, but into the future, the world will look for medicines, organic food, clean water and air – we have them in abundance in PNG.”
Mr Marape clarified that the company Niugini Biomed’s name had to be mentioned in the NEC paper and decision because they felt their intellectual properties needed to be secured,” he said.
“I ask Papua New Guineans out there: let’s embrace science and research now and into the future. This is the start of this area of work,” he added.