International Polio Day observed

International Polio Day was observed today in Port Moresby by UNICEF, the leading UN agency in immunisations.

It was conducted in partnership with World Health Organisation, Department of Health, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Rotary PNG, representing the civil society partners and stakeholders.

The successful campaign against polio virus in the last one year has placed Papua New Guinea on world map, according to Dr. Daoni Esorom, from the National Department of Health.   

There were eight rounds of the campaign that were delivered successfully despite hardship that the partners experienced in reaching remote places.

“Our response last year was very successful. We achieved over 105 in some provinces or 100 percent coverage. We are now transiting into routine immunisation, which is very important,” said Dr Esorom.

Dr. Esorom thanked the partners for investing and mobilizing resources globally to help the Department of health in carrying out the campaign. He also emphasized on the importance of continuing routine immunisation which will keep the virus from reappearing in future.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, was the first to deliver drops of polio vaccine on this day of commemorating the World Polio Day. He dedicated the theme of the day, which is ‘celebrating the heroes’, to the mothers and health workers for their efforts in making it all possible.

“The heroes are the mums that actually made the tremendous effort to take their children at times and to walk through the forest to get to health points to make sure that their children get vaccinated,” Rampolla stated.

“The heroes are those workers that have walked incredible complex terrains to actually get to health points where they could actually vaccinate your children. These are really the people that we are celebrating today.”

Rampolla said that it was an incredible success; having to stop the polio virus just six months after it was first detected.  

He said this demonstrates that in PNG, when efforts are put together, when leadership is provide by government, when supporters, partners rally, and coordinate well to support the government, incredible success can be achieved.

(WHO Country Representative, Dr Luo Dapeng, and UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla with a young mom and child during the World Polio Day 2019 activity at Gerehu General Hospital)

Frieda Kana