ICRC steps up PNG response

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stepped up its humanitarian response in PNG and adopted a multipronged approach to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable populations.

The humanitarian organisation is working closely with the local authorities and Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society (PNGRCS), specifically in the Highlands and Bougainville, by providing personal protective equipment and handwashing stations along with hygiene and awareness material to health facilities as part of the capacity-building and prevention measures.

Head of the ICRC’s mission in Port Moresby, Dominik Urban, said: “These are testing times and the ICRC is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of PNG by providing them with essential support. We are incorporating COVID-19 response into all our programmes. For instance, work is underway at Mount Hagen Hospital to set up a triage and 12-bedded isolation ward.

“The detention facilities of Port Moresby, Highlands and Bougainville remain highly vulnerable when it comes to any outbreak. Thus, we will provide all necessary support to the authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 there.”

Many people living in remote areas had no access to basic information such as the need for social distancing, maintaining hygiene or washing their hands regularly. This could be considered lifesaving in the present-day situation; ICRC along with the PNGRCS was working tirelessly to reach out to these communities with key information about COVID-19 prevention.

The ICRC is also training and sensitising village birth attendants on COVID-19 and mental health so they could reach out to vulnerable communities of Enga, Hela, Southern and Western Highlands provinces and spread the word.

The ICRC has been working to protect and help people affected by violence and tribal fighting in Bougainville and the Highlands of Papua New Guinea since 2012.

Operational highlights

Support to health facilities:

  • Donation of 1,000 pair of gloves, 200 aprons, 500 packs of compress, ten bedsheets and five liters of detergent to Mt Hagen Hospital.
  • Setting up of pre-triage areas (including handwashing facility) at entry points for outpatients, and a 12-bedded isolation ward at Mount Hagen Hospital.
  • Six ICRC-supported health structures in Hela, Enga and Southern Highlands provided with soap, COVID-19 leaflets, gloves and surgical masks for staff.
  • Donation of midwifery medical items to three health facilities in Bougainville.

Support to detention facilities:

  • Distribution of hygiene material for 700 detainees and 200 prison staff at Bomana Prison, Port Moresby.
  • Water taps and damaged water pump repaired at Mount Hagen Police Station lock-up for improved access to water.
  • Distribution of hygiene items and handwashing stations at Tari police lock-up, Wabag police lock-up, Mendi police lock-up and Bui Lebi correctional institution.
  • In Bougainville, one-month supply of personal hygiene items and cleaning materials provided in Buka police lock-up, Beikut correctional institution and Kerevat correctional institution.

Awareness generation:

  • As many as 1,200 community members benefit from awareness campaign by the ICRC and PNGRCS in Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.
  • Teams sensitize 23 health staff at the ICRC-supported health facilities and 36 village birth attendants in the Highlands on COVID-19 and prevention methods.
  • As many as 26,000 COVID-19 information leaflets handed over to Bougainville’s Department of Health and PNGRCS. In the Highlands, the ICRC hands over 8,000 leaflets to PNGRCS for further distribution. The leaflets will be used to generate awareness.

(ICRC team explaining the preventive measures for COVID-19 to Buiebi Correctional Institute officers and their families in Southern Highlands Province)

Press release