PNG get vaccinated: WHO


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging Papua New Guinea to increase its Coronavirus vaccination rates in its efforts to prepare for a Omicron variant surge.

Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for Western Pacific, was concerned as vaccination rates for the Covid 19 in the country still remained extremely low.

He said based on his observations, the country only experienced drastic increase with vaccination rates when there was a surge.

“Vaccination is the key for the country to cope with the next surge,” he said.

“The message is plain and simple and not new, getting the vaccine and abiding to the protocols in place would minimise the spread of the virus.
“Every variant comes stronger than the last one.”

Dr Kasai warned the country to consider taking a jab before the next surge hit.

He shared his sad news while in East New Britain where four health workers died at the Nonga General Hospital from the Covid-19.

Dr Kasai said the country’s health workforce had been overworked and were exhausted but due to the high number of positive cases, they were being forced to work under pressure and overtime.

He said based on global reports by the World Health Organisation, more than 70 countries had reported the presence of Omicron variant.

“Omicron is highly transmissible and there were possibilities for Omicron to enter the country from anywhere,” he said.

“The WHO want most of this country’s population to be vaccinated before that happens.”

Dr Kasai said vaccination could not prevent people from the new variant but it could prevent severe cases during the surge and also prevent deaths.

He stressed that many people who had been vaccinated in other countries, had received the Covid 19 booster vaccines which helped to improve the protection they had from their first doses of the types of vaccines they had received.

“This country can have booster vaccines only when a request was made by the Government for the booster vaccines to be made available,” he said.

Dr Kasai emphasised the complexities of communicating the Covid-19 messages right to the remotest parts of the country.

“I know this country’s geography combined with its diverse cultures and language barriers could be a challenge when communicating the Covid-19 messages to the people,” he said.

Dr Kasai said communicating the right messages using the best communication tools could help more people getting vaccinated to save lives.

“Everyone in the community must know what the Covid-19 is and how they can prevent themselves from getting infected by the virus,” he said.

Despite the low rates in vaccination, he commended the Government, the health minister and the Department of Health for heading the country in the right direction in terms of the Covid-19 restrictions and protocols.

Dr Kasai said he was impressed by the Government’s priority on health as it was a timely and important commitment for a government to put its priority where its people’s well-being were of paramount importance.