Vaccine gift for PNG

The Australian government has agreed to assist Papua New Guinea with over a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian government announced today that they will initially supply at the earliest, 8000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock.

Another million doses of Australia’s contracted supplies from AstraZeneca will also be gifted to Papua New Guinea.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said Australia is working with Papua New Guinea to support the Government’s response to the concerning spike in COVID-19 cases.

Morrison said Australia will supply 8000 AstraZeneca vaccines to enable vaccination of the country’s essential health workforce, with an initial rollout for the National Capital District.

The Australian government will also make a formal request to AstraZeneca and European authorities for one million doses of Australia’s contracted supplies to gift to Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government will also work with the PNG and Queensland governments to address health security on both sides of the Torres Strait, including support for making vaccines available in a timely way in Treaty Villages in the Protected Zone.

Australia will also deploy a forward team of three AUSMAT health specialists to Port Moresby to work on infection control, triage and emergency management and public health measures.

Australia is also providing the following new targeted support:

  • Supply of PPE and other equipment for Port Moresby General Hospital and other facilities, as well as 200,000 facemasks;
  • Working with the WHO on expanding warehouse capacity to increase storage for PPE and streamline its distribution;
  • Supply of hospital tent facilities outside Port Moresby General Hospital for safe triaging and referral and transfer of patients;
  • Supporting St John PNG and National Capital District Provincial Health Authority to establish Taurama Aquatic Centre as an isolation facility for mild to moderate cases with up to 120 bed capacity.
  • Funding support for the re-opening of the Rita Flynn Testing and Isolation Facility to relieve pressure on the Port Moresby General Hospital;
  • Funding St John Ambulance’s COVID-19 operations in Port Moresby, including patient transport, COVID-19 testing and PPE distribution to clinics;
  • Supporting the COVID-19 National Control Centre with information management, risk communications, quarantine management and health financing; and
  • Scaling up surveillance, testing and clinical care capacity in Port Moresby and provinces with known outbreaks, and testing of samples in Australia.

 The Australian government will also provide over 1.5 million essential PPE supplies to the PNG Government including: Surgical Masks, P2/N95 respirator masks, gowns, gloves, hand sanitiser bottles and face shields.

This new support is in addition to the $144.7 million support that Australia is providing to Papua New Guinea over 2020-21 to 2022-23 through our regional vaccine access initiative.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has already provided assistance of over $60 million dollars in assistance to help Papua New Guinea respond to the crisis.

Cedric Patjole