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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, the Government of Papua New Guinea is stepping up its efforts to minimise the spread of the virus in the country.

Health worker conducting health check with a local patient

OSF carrying out health checks during a health patrol to a remote village in Southern Highlands Province.

Oil Search Foundation (OSF), like many other development partners, has undertaken extra measures to help with the COVID-19 response.

Through its close partnerships with the Provincial Heath Authorities (PHA) in Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf the Foundation is supporting COVID-19 planning, the procurement of supplies and is providing extra clinical support.

OSF Executive Director and Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority Board Chair, Stephanie Copus-Campbell said that OSF is assisting partner PHAs to provide a range of support including helping rural health facilities to remain open and adequately staffed.

The Foundation is also helping with health awareness, ensuring the PHAs have access to World Health Organisation (WHO) materials and online courses and setting up quarantine areas.

"We know that access to test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) are a high priority so we are also supporting PHAs procure and transport these important items as well as completing critical infrastructure to use in the case the virus breaks out"
- Stephanie Copus-Campbell OSF Executive Director and Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority Board Chair

“Papua New Guinea must be ready to manage any possible case and its health workers and health facilities ready to treat patients in the event of a community transmission while at the same time continuing other services” adds Copus-Campbell.

“We know from other health crisis around the world, such as Ebola, that more people can die after the crises from preventable diseases such as measles, because normal health programs stopped operating. OSF is supporting PNG, with funding from Australia, New Zealand and the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) to carry out immunisation outreach programs to prevent a similar scenario from occurring,” says OSF medical doctor, Dr Graham Lowe.

The Foundation has is also helping to maintain key service for those experiencing family and sexual violence through working with PHA’s in Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces and the Bel isi PNG case management centre and safe house in Port Moresby. These are essential services, especially during this period of lockdown where, like many other parts of the world, there is a risk of increases in violence against women and children.