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.”