Solar fridges for Oro aid posts

Forty-seven aid posts across Northern Province will receive solar fridges for vaccine storage.

With funding from the PNG-Australia Partnership, Australian NGO, the Kokoda Track Foundation, is working alongside the Northern Provincial Health Authority to supply and install the solar fridges to every operating aid post in the province, regardless of how remote their location.

KTF CEO, Dr Genevieve Nelson, said: “Vaccination is critical to PNG’s future, as it is for all countries, allowing us to live more safely with not only COVID-19, but many other endemic diseases.

“Having a cold-storage solution is vital for health workers in rural and remote locations to safely keep and administer vaccinations against the virus, as well as many scheduled childhood vaccines supplied by the PHA, including measles, polio and tetanus.

“They will also be able to store other medicines that require refrigeration, like insulin for treating diabetes, some eye drops and types of antibiotics.

“Our ‘Light for Life’ project is helping health workers by providing solar fridges for vaccine storage, as well as solar power and water tanks for their health facilities, plus a range of tools to help boost vaccination uptake, including training and awareness materials.

“Our goal is help to get as many vaccines into arms as possible when supplies become available in the far corners of Oro.”

In conjunction with solar fridge delivery, the project sees KTF partnering with the National Department of Health to support Community Health Worker upskilling on COVID-19 vaccine administration and messaging, providing awareness materials and PPE for the 60 rural health workers attending training in Popondetta.

Health patrols, led by a qualified nurse, will also head into remote communities across the greater Kokoda catchment region to raise awareness in readiness.

“Although we regularly support 15 aid posts across the Kokoda region, we are delighted to be able to scale this project to include all rural health facilities across the province, thanks to the support of the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Pawarim Komuniti Off-grid Electrification Program,” stated Dr Nelson.

“Provincial coverage is something we would never have dreamed of, and is yet another example of the true partnership between PNG and Australia, involving PNG National and Provincial Health Authorities, the Australian Government and KTF.”

Light for Life has seen the majority of the 47 fridges already installed and training and awareness activities have commenced, preparing Oro health workers for a vaccination program delivering vaccines supplied by the international community, including Australia.

Press Release