The acting country representative of the World Health Organisation , Anna Maalsen, says the vaccine refrigerators and cold chain equipment will help strengthen routine immunization services in the provinces, and ensure high quality vaccines are available to all and especially to all children. Ms Maalsen added, “a functioning cold chain ensures that vaccines are stored safely and retain their potency to protect children against diseases such as measles and polio.”
She added, the equipment would also facilitate the successful outreach of the “Sleeves-Up” campaign , launched by Prime Minister, James Marape on Tuesday, 4 May 2021. The campaign focuses on vaccinating all front line health workers and other essential workers against Covid-19, to ensure they are safe, protected and can continue to provide essential services to the rest of the people.
Ms Maalsen made these remarks at the handover ceremony of the vaccine refrigerators and cold chain equipment to the National Department of Health at the Steamships East West Transport premises, along Napa Napa, Central province, on Wednesday 5 May 2021, adding, “this is a significant milestone for Papua New Guinea.” “And to ensure that the vaccines are stored safely and retain their potency we require equipment like this, in front of us today.”
“The vaccines , all vaccines, not just the Covid -19 vaccines, but all our routine immunization, have gone through vigorous clinical trials in many countries to make sure they are safe and effective.” The delivery of the equipment to Papua New Guinea was made possible through GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF.
Ms Maalsen emphasized that Covid-19 vaccines combined with Niupela Pasin, like hand washing, mask wearing physical distancing and avoiding crowds, would help protect people from serious illness and death if they become infected with Covid19 Meantime, over 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have already been administered to people all over the world.. The government of Papua New Guinea is rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccines nation wide from today and all front line health workers and other essential workers will be offered the vaccine first.
“So we encourage you all to take the vaccine when it’s your turn . But more importantly ,we must keep up the routined immunizations. “Papua New Guinea cannot afford to have lower coverage than we already have for some of our routined vaccinations. Measles, polio and many others, are critical to the success for the development of Papua New Guinea , the economy, and for our healthy future,” Ms Maalsen said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF representative, Judith Bruno, emphasised the importance of maintaining these equipment to ensure the vaccine availability , potency and safety. In addition , the Managing Director of Steamships, Rupert Bray, expressed his gratitude for being the logistics partner for the vaccine rollout in the country .