Marape urges NDOH, PHAs to increase COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Tuesday, 1  March  2022

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape,  has urged the National Department of Health (NDoH), Provincial Health Authorities (PHAs) and partners to work together on increasing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and provide accessible health care to citizens.

Prime Minister Marape  was speaking  at a dinner last night (28/02/22) hosted for CEOs of PHAs, COVID-19 Task Force, NDoH and partners, who are in Port Moresby for a week-long planning workshop on COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the provinces.

He said the country could not have survived the pandemic without the efforts put in by the cadre of health care workers in all the provinces and health care establishments.

“I thank you for your professional input and hard work by our doctors and nurses, community health workers and others, we could not have come this far.

“There is much more we can do for our public health care going forward and I ask you all to work together with the Health Department and our multilateral and bilateral partners.

“I urge CEOs of the PHAs to dissect the National Health Plan 2020-2030 and come up with a workable pathway in delivering modern health care to our citizens to the best of our abilities despite the constraints we have,” said Prime Minister Marape.

He said, despite the fact that for the first-time his Marape-Basil Government has allocated the greatest share of resources to key sectors including health, constraints remain the biggest challenge in our economy, country and the health sector.

“That allocation is still not enough. So I urge international partners like WHO, UNDP, UNICEF and our bilateral partners like Australia, New Zealand, US who continue to support our country and all and others who have been very good partners to us, to work with us in ensuring our intentions in the Health Plan is realized.

“I kindly ask you all to go down to the various provinces and districts and visit a health centre or a community aid post where every help is needed to support us deliver the health services to our people.

“The Government wants health services to be within one hours reach by every mode of transportation we have in our country. That in essence is quality health services must be accessible to people,” he said.

He  told CEOs of the 22 PHAs that COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the great deficiency PNG has in its health care sector over these years.

“Right through the breath and length of our country the health facilities and medical equipment to serve our people is appalling.

“When the pandemic struck our country we knew that there was no medication that could be used to cure COVID-19 patients.

“The only cure was oxygen ventilators for those who were severely affected. We had only 200 ICU beds and of that we had 44 beds with oxygen built in to serve those in most need of help or treatment for COVID-19 virus.

“In a country of over 8 million people such statistics for our medical care equipment is deplorable as far as the provision of timely health care to our citizens is concerned. That is something we cannot be proud of.

“There is much more space for improvement and I want good health facilities like 22 provincial hospitals to be built and fully equipped with the necessary medical kits and equipment available,” said Prime Minister Marape.

He also said that leaders and people with money are being medevacked but the citizens cannot afford such a luxury for medical treatment overseas or elsewhere in their own country.

“I urge each and every PHA to come up with a game plan to have our health care system modernized and easily accessible to our people.

“Why should we leaders and others who have been treated differently than our citizens who deserve modern health care services and treatment on a timely basis and that’s a challenge for us all,” he said.

The Government has allocated K15 million in the 2022 National Budget to start the work on building 22 modern provincial hospitals in the country.

Prime Minister Marape also wants PHAs, the COVID-1 vaccine Task Force, NDoH and partners to work hand in hand to get many people vaccinated of COVID-19.

Since PNG recorded its first case in March 2020 there is a total of 36 866 cases including 597 deaths reported from all 22 provinces as of 30th January 2022.

A Department of Health Report indicates that 5.8 per cent, that is 295 610 persons of the population have received their first dose and an alarmingly just 4.6 per cent -234, 710 people of the total population are fully vaccinated from COVID-19.

The Government is of the view that there needs to be a coordination and close working relation with the NDOH, NCC, churches and the Provincial Health Authorities to ensure the message to get more people vaccinated is achieved.

Thus a COVID-19 Task Force is conducting a 3 days coordination and planning workshop to help the PHAs and hospitals to overcome some of the challenges they face.

It’s aimed at collating information and understanding challenges and success of the vaccination rollout from the experience of provinces, and to come up with workable solutions to increase vaccine acceptance and uptake in 2022.

Prime Minister Marape said the workshop is timely when PNG will conduct its 2022 National General Elections amidst the pandemic.

The PHAs and Coordinating Partner COVID-19 Vaccine Planning and Coordination Workshop ends this week Thursday (03/03/22).

One of the outcomes is to ensure they are fully aware of the 2022 strategy and plan for COVID-19 vaccine rollout, boosters and role of partners and provincial level leadership and funding mechanisms.

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