UN Coordinator Rampolla calls on partners to continue support for COVAX

Thursday 15 April 2021

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea, Mr  Gianluca Rampolla, has appealed to   partners to continue providing support to and through  COVAX,  to  ensure vaccines are made available in a timely and equitable manner.

Mr Rampolla was speaking during  a celebration  to welcome  the first shipment of     AstraZeneca vaccines from  the COVAX Facility,  at APEC Haus, Port Moresby, this afternoon.

The shipment of 132,000 doses, marks the first, of several  vaccine allotments  to Papua New Guinea from the COVAX facility, and should   cover at least 20 percent  of the population.

The  shipment arrived in the country from  India  via Singapore on Tuesday 13 April 2021.

Mr Rampolla however said   the COVAX  facility  was  a joint initiative of   GAVI, the global  vaccine alliance  WHO, UNICEF,  European  Union  through the   European Commission, and the governments of Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, France,  New Zealand, Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States  of America,,  among other donors, that    provide contributions to this global facility.

The aim is to ensure  equitable distribution of Covid vaccines to developing countries.

“The vaccine equity is the biggest , moral test the global community  faces at this stage.

“Covid-19  is the biggest challenge  that requires effective  multilateralism and international  cooperation to be  successfully addressed, “ he said.

With the first shipment, WHO, UNICEF , UN agencies, and partners will  support the government  and  vaccinate  the priority  heath and frontline workers.

“And not only the health workers ,but also  health and frontline workers across  all provinces.  including those who are at risk  of developing serious complications from  the virus.”

The vaccination of this priority group began in March 2021,  following the shipment of 8000 doses, from the Australian  government.

Mr Rampolla further emphasised, “vaccine alone will not be enough . It’s necessary but is not enough  to end this pandemic.”

He urged the public to  continue to implement the non-pharmaceutical interventions, or  the preventive ,measures,  such as washing hands regularly, social distancing of 1.5 metres in crowded areas, and  wearing of masks, among others, and not to be complacent.

“Papua New Guineans will have a choice. It  will  entirely be their own  choice whether they want to or not to get the vaccine.

“It is our collective responsibility  to support accurate information through this vaccine,  because it will be crucial  in ensuring that  the decision that  people will make  will be based on  facts  and not on fears.”

Mr Rampolla added that according to a  statement from  Global Advisory Committee    as well as the European Medicines Agency,    based on risks, benefit ratio , the AstraZeneca vaccine, remains an important  public health tool  against Covid-19 pandemic  and is effective in preventing severe cases , hospitalization  and death.

Meantime, UNICEF   has been leading the procurement locally and globally through COVAX,   and supporting  the vital cold  chain management  which has enabled the country to achieve  adequate cold chain storage  capacities to store the vaccines across the country.

“We are in a position to  distribute vaccines  across the country because  we have  those  cold chain storage  capacity already  available.”

He added,  “the pandemic is not over –  there’s plenty still to be done, and together  in partnership, in friendship through the spirit behind the creation  of the United Nations, we will  overcome this  massive challenge.”

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea, Mr Gianluca Rampolla, joins development partners and the government in welcoming the first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines at APEC Haus this afternoon. (photo credit UNICEF).

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