Health leaders call for nationwide vaccination

Tuesday 1  March 2022

Health Secretary   Dr Osborne Liko officially opens the COVID-19 Vaccine Workshop for Health Leaders  at Lamana Hotel, Port  Moresby,  on Tuesday 1 March 2022.

In a first since the COVID-19 pandemic, the heads of Papua New Guinea’s 22 Provincial Health Authorities (PHA’s), key health personnel and partners are gathered in Port Moresby to address the challenges of the national COVID-19 Vaccination rollout program.

Led by the National Department of Health through the National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, a 3-day workshop is currently underway to give a voice to each province’s challenges in the COVID-19 response.

“This is an opportunity for provincial health leaders and health workers to have their voices heard, share experiences and lessons learned, and discuss a way forward, together,” said Mr Api Kassman, Executive Director  of  the National Vaccine Taskforce.

Secretary for Health, Dr. Osbourne Liko, in opening the workshop this morning (1st March 2022), thanked all the PHA’s for their hard work over the past two  years, since PNG declared its first case of COVID-19.

 “I know this has entailed many long and stressful hours with depleted staff and plenty of hardship. I thank you and deeply appreciate your efforts”.

Dr Liko acknowledges the importance of listening and learning from lessons learned,  and  reiterated the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, as it  prevents severe illness and death.

 “The facts tell us time and again. We do not know when the next wave will hit, but we do know those who have been vaccinated have withstood current outbreaks of COVID much better, much stronger,” said Dr Liko.

The participants shared practical experiences for community engagement and stressed on the importance of health care workers to vaccinate themselves ahead of others.

One participant highlighted a common challenge facing many provincial health authorities , and that was the limited human resources.

 “We need human resources. One of our root causes is we’re down with manpower. This hinders us to go out and get the job done to ensure our people are vaccinated”.

Key themes that were raised on Day #01 included strategic and community based advocacy, identifying vaccine champions, coordinated efforts and strengthening partnerships.

The workshop is supported by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Papua New Guinea – Australia partnership and partners. Findings from the workshop will inform the National COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce on the course of action on future vaccine rollout efforts in the country.

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