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A new report from NGO ChildFund Australia is warning that the health of children in Papua New Guinea is at risk due to COVID-19 placed on the country.
Teams of health workers in Papua New Guinea are working to identify and test people who possibly may have COVID-19, after three new cases were reported in the past week.
In PNG the focus of health workers in the past few months has largely been on coronavirus.
But the report from NGO ChildFund Australia predicts that there could be an explosion of infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and measles, as a direct result of halted immunisation campaigns.
The CEO of ChildFund Australia Margaret Sheehan said that the organisations outreach clinics have been severely restricted.
“The routine vaccination programmes have been stopped,” she said, “and outreach services because of lockdowns means that people can't go out to remote communities.”
She said that diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and polio could see a resurgence.
Sheehan also said that the coronavirus restrictions are impacting pregnant women and their ability to have a safe birth.
“We have seen that pregnant women have been accessing health services less,” she said.
Papua New Guinea is already one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth.
Professor Glen Mola, one of the country's foremost obstetric experts, is concerned the fear surrounding COVID-19 — in addition to the outbreak itself — is making conditions worse.
“Every day I see problems that have occurred because women have tried to access care when they've had problems and they haven't been able to do so,” he said.
Sheehan said that she thinks the NGO's on the ground and the PNG Government should work together to get healthcare programs back up and running.
“We need messaging to parents to try and continue to bring their children when these services are back,” she said.
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