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Oil Search Foundation (OSF) is working to ensure that immunisation services are not disrupted should more COVID19 cases be found in PNG.

Vaccinations work. Immunising children is a simple and effective way of protecting them from serious diseases. When a child is immunized, it not only protects the individual, but also the broader community. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), maintaining routine immunisation programs is essential even when we are focussed on other public health emergencies such as COVID 19 or polio.

Lessons learned from other disease outbreaks across the world tell us that the current COVID-19 pandemic response may disrupt routine immunisation activities and possibility lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles because health services are reduced.

This high potential for Vaccine Preventable Disease outbreaks, makes it imperative for countries like Papua New Guinea to maintain continuity of immunization services.

Oil Search Foundation (OSF) is working in partnership with the Gulf Provincial Health Authority (GPHA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF to ensure that immunisation services and other essential activities like community health outreach clinics and patrols are not disrupted should more COVID19 cases be found in PNG. The goal of increasing immunisation is supported by many donor partners including the Australian and New Governments and the Global Vaccine Alliance.

“Immunization is a core health service that must be prioritized for the prevention of communicable diseases and safeguarded for continuity of cover."
- Stephanie Copus-Campbell OSF Executive Director

“Children might die of a measles outbreak – we only must remember the tragedy of the very recent Samoan measles outbreak where over 80 children tragically lost their lives.” Dr Copus-Campbell continued.

OSF and the Gulf PHA are working on immunization delivery strategies which will be adapted and conducted under safe conditions, without undue harm to health workers, caregivers and the community.” says OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell.

“We will continue to work with the National Department of Health to monitor the dynamics of COVID-19 in our country, and, together with development partners like OSF, we will ensure that our health facilities at both districts in the Gulf Province continue to maintain routine immunisation whilst providing static or routine healthcare.” notes Gulf PHA CEO Dr Paul Wari.

OSF staff are now on the ground in Kerema and Kikiori Districts to support the Gulf PHA District Health Managers to maintain routine immunisation. “A community clinic is planned and will be conducted in a COVID compliant manner where prevention measures will be practiced, and appropriate PPE’s will be worn during this clinic. This will be tied in together with the PHA’s COIVD awareness and social mobilisation activity which will see awareness on COVID-19 take place whilst the immunisation team carry out the community vaccination.” added Ms Copus-Campbell.