New Ireland Province received measles vaccines after 13 suspected cases were detected, where one of them was tested positive.
A 23-year-old detainee from the Kavieng Correctional Institute was tested positive due to the incomplete dosage of the vaccine in his early childhood.
In a press update on January 2nd, Secretary for Health, Pascoe Kase, said appropriate measures for detection and response have been undertaken to identify additional suspected cases and vaccinate children aged 6 months to 15 years, close contacts, including adults, and affected areas.
Kase said, they have already issued supplies of vaccines to the affected area.
“In New Ireland Province, we have supplied 8,000 doses of measles rubella vaccine on the 26th December 2019, vaccinated 335 inmates and close contacts and also vaccinated and covered all prison staff and family members of the Correctional Institution in New Ireland.”
Secretary Kase said an additional four suspected cases have been investigated and if they meet case definition for measles, then samples will be collected and sent to the laboratory for further testing.
He also stressed that they continue to have weekly emergency meetings in response to the recent measles cases.
“We have continued to have weekly National Emergency meetings every Tuesdays and Thursdays with our partners, namely WHO and UNICEF, to continue to strategies on 1) Improving our immunization coverage rates; 2) Strengthening our surveillance systems for vaccines preventable diseases and other diseases; 3. Deliberate on the provincial reports that we have received and to support the provinces and; 4, to monitor global disease outbreaks and to prepare PNG response contingency plans.”
For now, the Health Department and the Provincial Health Authorities are urging parents to take their children to the nearest health facilities to complete their routine immunisations.
(Article written by Jamie Haro – third year UPNG Journalism student)