Thousands of children are set to be vaccinated against preventable diseases as the Accelerated Immunisation and Health System Strengthening (AIHSS) program supports Provincial Health Authorities to deliver immunisations and is expected to reach more than 400,000 children in Eastern Highlands province.
The AIHSS program launch event was attended by Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority CEO Dr Joseph Apa, Eastern Highlands Provincial Government representatives, Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp and local stakeholders.
Dr. Apa said the program will support the provincial health authority to sustainably strengthen delivery of routine immunisations and improve the key performance indicators in the province.
“This program will make sure that children have access to vital immunisations and are protected against a range of preventable diseases,” he said.
“It will also build capacity within our health authority, ensuring that these can be sustainably delivered into the future.” He added.
The AIHSS program is an initiative of the PNG Government and supported by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance.
It is implemented by the Provincial Health Authorities with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.
High Commissioner Jon Philp said that supporting the health sector is an investment in the health and wellbeing of Papua New Guineans.
“Investing in immunisation is one of the best value health interventions any government at any level can make because it reduces burden disease of families and reduces cost to the health system. The future of PNG depends on a healthy population,” he said.
New Zealand High Commissioner Phillip Taula said the partnership is led by PNG agencies, People in the provinces best understand the challenges and opportunities faced by their communities.
“The leadership of the Provincial Health Authorities and support from local organisations, like churches and schools, is vital for this program’s success.” He said.
Gavi spokesperson Anna Standerstkjold said the program is an important initiative to sustainably strengthen the delivery and coverage of the routine immunisations across Papua New Guinea, including Eastern Highlands.
“Increasing immunisation coverage reduces childhood mortality and dramatically decreases incidences of deadly, debilitating, and preventable diseases,” she said.
“As children become healthier, they are more able to be economically prosperous and be socially stable together with their families, communities and countries.” She said.
At its completion in 2022, the immunisation program is expected to have increased from 30 to 80 per cent, the rate recommended by the WHO to reduce illness, disability and death from preventable diseases like polio, measles and tetanus.