UK EMT deployed to Western Highlands

Wednesday 27  October 2021

The Team Lead of the UK Emergency Medical Team, Peter Sykes addressing the media  at the press conference  at Morauta Haus yesterday.

The United Kingdom Emergency Medical Team has been deployed to Western Highlands, one of the worst affected in this wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team left for Mt Hagen this morning where they will be for six weeks unless they are needed in another province as well.

At a  press conference yesterday, Controller of the National Pandemic Response Mr David Manning welcomed the team on behalf of the PNG Government, saying PNG

is facing significant challenges in the current COVID-19 pandemic and was grateful for the support from the UK EMT.

“UK EMT will be deployed to Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands. It is in dire need of specialist assistance. From the NCC, we are grateful for this assistance from the British Government,’’ he said.

He also acknowledged the presence of members of the Australian Medical Team in the country who are doing preparatory work for the engagement of its own members to help PNG.

Mr Manning said the UK EMT team was being deployed to Western Highlands because of the dire situation in that province, but if other provinces require similar assistance they too will be considered.

He said PNG has its own domestic EMT that  has been responding to the surges in the provinces in the past two months but has its limitations thus the government sought  help from its foreign friends, including the British Government.

British High Commissioner to PNG Keith Scott thanked PNG for the warm welcome on behalf of the UK EMT.

He said since the outbreak begun almost two years ago, the British High Commission has tried to respond to requests for help from the PNG Government which included helping with awareness on the Niupela Pasin; helped St John Ambulance with some infrastructure development in Port Moresby; provided  US$500, 000 worth of medical equipment in response to the last wave of COVID-19 and is delighted that its help to PNG is being taken to an extra level with the arrival of UK Emergency Medical Team.

“It’s a chance for the British medical expertise equipped to the best use here in PNG. It’s not  only about dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases  of  the Western Highlands but I’m also hoping there’s also some capacity building here, that the team will leave behind a legacy, and will help put the COVID-19 system  on a sure footing to be able to be more resilient in the way it responds to such crisis in future,’’ said Mr Scott.

“I know the team are desperate to get in and do what they have to do, make a difference on the ground. Thank you for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to help a good friend in Papua New Guinea.’’

Mr Sykes thanked PNG for the warm welcome and the opportunity to serve the people of PNG.

He said his team would  be providing urgent care to seriously and critically ill patients; ensuring with PNG colleagues adequate infection prevention and control measures to stop further spread of the disease; and supporting community engagement strategies to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We are proud to represent the UK Emergency Medical Team in Papua New Guinea, grateful for the support of the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, and will do all we can to support PNG’s efforts to fight this pandemic and bring it under control.  

Our expert team will be providing critical medical care to patients suffering with COVID-19 and support to national health staff, already engaged in coping with the rapid spread of a third wave of the virus.’’

Head of NCC Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Dr Gary Nou said at a meeting this morning that his team is looking at how they can help Western Province which will include deploying an international team.

However, he said EMTs can only work with the teams on the ground to beef up the ongoing operation which is almost non-existent in Western Province.

 “We can bring in equipment, but there are no nurses. We need nurses to look after the patients. Most of the people are presenting late,’’ he said.

He also said it is hard to know the real situation in Western Province because testing is low and is mostly done at Tabubil health facility.

Emergency Physician at the Port Moresby General Hospital  Dr Scotty Kendelyo, who is also the clinical cluster lead at NCC, also reported that PMGH is also experiencing a surge and its isolation ward is more than 50 per cent occupied, which has resulted in a decision being made to re-open the Taurama Acquatic Centre.

They are also looking at bringing in extra-manpower to cater for the increasing number of patients being admitted with COVID-19.

West Sepik Province is also experiencing a surge so a team from NCC is currently on the ground to give support.

For more information, contact communications officer, Maureen Gerawa,  on phone 71010422 or on email: maureengerawa@gmail.com

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