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PNG Deadly Covid Crisis Getting Worse

People in Papua New Guinea are not getting enough Covid vaccines due to misinformation. This is causing immense stress and suffering throughout the country, says Quenelda Clegg Chair of CID’s Humanitarian Network.

The Humanitarian Network of the Council for International Development (CID) represents the aid agencies that respond to emergencies in the Pacific and globally on behalf of New Zealanders.

“It is a complex situation in PNG. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, it is difficult to get to health centres due to restrictions, there is misinformation everywhere, and fear of the vaccine and its side effects is getting in the way. People are afraid and it is putting their lives in danger.”

“We support the government’s recent decision to send a medical and logistics support team, plus essential supplies. But the risks of not doing more - and quickly - could see the death rate spiral, country health systems collapse, and even spread Covid19 beyond PNG,” said Quenelda Clegg.

Priority areas:

  • Donate spare vaccines in New Zealand to PNG
  • Urgent support to increase the capacity of hospitals and health services to respond
  • Reliable cell phone coverage and Wi-Fi so local health workers and community leaders can provide accurate and up-to-date information on the vaccine
  • Increase security and protect local health workers rolling out the vaccine
  • Fund mobile vaccine clinics so people in rural areas can be reached
  • Support people to get transport to clinics, and to get deceased loved ones to morgues.

New World Bank research Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy: Survey and Experimental Evidence from Papua New Guinea, showed that when people were given basic information on the safety of the vaccine and the dangers of Covid, the percentage of people who said they were willing to be vaccinated increased. There have been over 33,000 people infected with Covid, and over 430 deaths in PNG. Less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated.

“In some villages, two or more family members have died from Covid, just days or weeks apart. We have a health system overcome with sick people and our people are dying,” says Oxfam’s PNG Country Director Eunice Wotene.

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