Year of immunisation: Health minister

2019 has been declared as the year of immunisation in Papua New Guinea.

Health Minister Sir Puka Temu made the announcement in the presence of health partners during the official launch of Round 3 of the Polio National Immunisation Days.

Sir Puka said PNG’s routine immunisation coverage stands between 46 to 60 percent, which is the lowest in the Asia Pacific.

“The National Government has allocated K16.5 million in 2019 for the Expanded Program on Immunisation. This funding is for the polio outbreak emergency response of K10 million and routine vaccine procurement of K6.5 million.”

The funding will help the health sector’s development partners’ marshalling of resources for service delivery at provincial and district level.

UNICEF Representative to PNG, David Mcloughlin, said children’s welfare and wellbeing remains a big concern for UNICEF in PNG.

So far, 26 children have been affected by the polio outbreak; UNICEF is concerned because no child should suffer or die from vaccine preventable diseases.

“In 2019, polio, measles, pertussis and other diseases should be unheard of. We’ve let our guard down, giving opportunity for disease to attack our children.”

He said national vaccination rates in PNG dropped from 62 percent in 2015 to 50 percent in 2017, meaning children in PNG are less protected from diseases.

“The good news is that we can stop further transmission of polio or cases of measles and pertussis and any other vaccine-preventable disease.”

Mcloughlin said we should not shy from asking those around us if their children have been vaccinated because not only do vaccines protect one child, but it gives immunity to the whole community.

(Sir Puka Temu filepic)

Salome Vincent