Polio

Nationwide vaccination campaign launched

This was supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

The campaign aims to vaccinate more than 1.3 million children in the age group of 6 months to 5 years with measles and rubella (MR) vaccines, and then children from birth to 5 years with oral polio vaccine (OPV).

This exercise further demonstrates Papua New Guinea’s commitment to improve health and well-being of its children by protecting them against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Helpless parents watch as children suffer: WHO

At the National Launch of Round 3 of the Polio National Immunization Days, WHO Country Representative Dr Luo Dapeng laid out the facts as they were in terms of the polio response.

“As I speak to you today, 25 young boys and girls in nine provinces of Papua New Guinea are either in pain or having difficulty walking because of polio,” he said.

The World Health Organisation representative said many parents in remote areas feel helpless as they watch their children suffer from measles, pertussis and other diseases.

Ailing Kosipe population needs attention

This call comes from two health officers who walk the rugged terrains of Woitape to reach remote Kosipe and treat malaria patients there.

Mathew and Mary Kamo, a husband and wife team, mostly work on their own but the weather during the past few months has made traveling difficult in reaching and treating the sick.

Mathew said they have had to brave the tough weather conditions despite having limited medicines and manpower.

Health secretary’s polio update

Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said the rate at which polio has spread has quadrupled within the first four months since the first confirmed case of a 6-year-old boy in Morobe on 28th April, 2018.

“That means that we have 40 percent or 9 of the provinces in the country had recorded a case/s.

“The National Government has supported the polio campaign with K6 million and out of that, we have only received K2m.

3.2 million children vaccinated

The biggest polio vaccination campaign to be implemented in PNG mobilised more than 9,000 health workers and volunteers.

“As of 31 October 2018, we have immunised 3,112,035 children under 15 years old against polio, and this had been made possible through the hard work and dedication of our polio workers on the ground,” said the Secretary of the National Department of Health (NDOH), Pascoe Kase.

“I commend the leadership of the provincial health agencies and emergency operations coordinators for effectively launching and managing a very challenging response operations.”

Maprik aims to vaccinate 30,000 children

The district health office has teams working around the clock to reach the set target at the end of the week.

Vaccination campaign teams stationed at seven health facilities throughout Maprik district have reached at least half of the set target.

Health Manager Raymond Pohonai said health workers have so far reached at least half that number since the launch on October 1st; its biggest challenge is the vast geological terrain to reach most communities.

Polio campaign launched in ARoB

Secretary of the Health Department in the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Clement Totavun, said the polio campaign will target an estimated 116,000 children in Bougainville, starting from the age of 15 down to newborn babies.

He said the campaign has started already in parts of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, particularly in South Bougainville.

“The intensive campaign will run for about two weeks until the 21st of October,” Totavun stated.

“180 health workers will be engaged in about 80 polio clinic sites set up across the Island.”

Polio strategies developed

These strategies came about following lessons learnt in the last 100 days of the emergency response.

The polio outbreak response plan of Papua New Guinea focuses on three main components: 

  • Supplementary immunisation activities
  • Enhanced surveillance; and
  • Communication

The supplementary immunisation activities have seen two national immunisation campaigns targeting more than 3.26 million children under 15 years old across 22 provinces.

15th polio case detected

The one year old girl had paralysis of the left leg, associated with fever, headache and muscle pain and was confirmed to have contracted polio following lab test.

Based on genetic analysis, this case is linked to the ongoing polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea. 

To date, seven provinces have confirmed polio cases with one reported death. 

Polio vaccination commences in NCD

The numbers are expected to increase in all clinics in the coming days.

Day one of the two weeks polio supplementary vaccination in the nation’s capital started on a high note with clinics recording more than what they expected.

The 6 Mile and Gordon clinics are two out of the many NCD clinics that this newsroom visited.

Clinic Manager of 6 Mile clinic, Sr Antonia Guba, said they vaccinated close to 400 children.