Goldsmith made the announcement during a video call with Prime Minister James Marape on 27 August as part of a “virtual” tour of the Pacific.
The bulk of the funding – K3 million – will be provided through the World Health Organisation – for equipment and training under PNG’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Another K1 million has been given to UNICEF to fund Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) projects in 40 schools in Goroka and Mt Hagen, benefitting 8,000 children. This is the UK’s first WaSH project in PNG since leaving the European Union.
The UNICEF grant is also funding COVID-19 awareness through the song Wok Bung Wantaim, which is being played nationally on TV and radio, and the training of health workers in Goroka and Mt Hagen, who will reach an estimated 20,000 people through community outreach.
Further support is planned to publish awareness material in local languages and assist St John Ambulance in its essential work in Port Moresby.
The UK has also provided technical assistance through the UK-funded Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN), with free healthcare standards from the British Standards Institute, including for protective clothing and masks and equipment such as respirators.
The CSN is also running training courses to help organisations in PNG prepare for future shocks, including pandemics. This is in addition to the UK’s advocacy for PNG’s COVID response in international fora, in particular supporting the release of US$364 million in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund’s Rapid Credit Facility.
The UK also secured an invitation for PNG to attend the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) Summit in London in June and highlight the need for access to vaccines for PNG and the wider region.
British High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Keith Scott, said: “The UK’s commitment to help Papua New Guinea fight the COVID-19 pandemic is evidence of a strengthening of our long standing historical relationship.
“We want to help PNG not only meet its immediate needs but also develop resilience in the health sector and beyond. And it’s not just about money; it’s about providing PNG with the tools it needs to build a better future – and we are delighted to support that ambition.”
(United Kingdom Minister for the Pacific and the Environment, Lord Zac Goldsmith, has announced a package of UK support worth about K4.3 million to help Papua New Guinea tackle COVID-19 during a video call with PNG Prime Minister James Marape on 27 August)