It is the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the heads of Papua New Guinea’s 22 Provincial Health Authorities (PHAs), key health personnel and partners are gathered together to address the challenges of the national COVID-19 Vaccination rollout program.
“This is an opportunity for provincial health leaders and health workers to have their voices heard, share experiences and lessons learned, and discuss a way forward, together,” said the National Vaccine Taskforce, Executive Director, Api Kassman.
Health Secretary, Dr. Osbourne Liko, in opening the workshop yesterday, 1st of March 2022, thanked all the PHAs for their hard work over the past two since PNG declared its first case of COVID-19.
“I know this has entailed many long and stressful hours with depleted staff and plenty of hardship. I thank you and deeply appreciate your efforts,” he said.
Dr Liko acknowledged the importance of listening and learning from lessons learned while he reiterated the importance of COVID-19 vaccination to prevent severe illness and death.
“The facts tell us time and again. We do not know when the next wave will hit, but we do know those who have been vaccinated have withstood current outbreaks of COVID much better, much stronger.”
The participants shared practical experiences for community engagement and stressed on the importance of health care workers to vaccinate themselves ahead of others.
A common challenge facing many provincial health authorities that was highlighted was the limited human resources.
The health facilities have insufficient manpower which hinders them from getting the job done by getting more people vaccinated.
Key themes raised on day 1 included strategic and community based advocacy, identifying vaccine champions, coordinated efforts and strengthening partnerships.
The World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Papua New Guinea - Australia partnership and partners, support the workshop. Findings from the workshop will inform the National COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce on the course of action on future rollout efforts in the country.