The public health team, consisting of nurses from the West Taraka clinic and their support staff, were conducting their routine child immunisation program when they were attacked at 11am today.
Two of their social mobilisation officers, Andrew Apisai and Geoffrey Lalio, were injured when they stood up to protect the female nurses from an intoxicated man, who claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered under the pretext of child immunisation.
Apisai, who resides at West Taraka, is a volunteer who works as a social mobiliser. He helps the nurses by conducting awareness and informing the community of the child immunisation program.
“Mipla sa raun olsem na nau mipla go lo Banana Block lo West Taraka yet, ol misandastendim COVID-19 na bebi sut,” he stated. (We normally do these rounds but today when we went to the Banana Block at West Taraka, they misunderstood the difference between the COVID-19 vaccine and immunisation.)
“Mipla bin ekspleinim lo ol olsem bebi sut em narapla na COVID-19 em narapla. Mi ekspleinim but ol no andasten gut nau, ol atekim mipla. (We explained to them that they are different, but they did not understand us and attacked us.)
“Ol kam brukim teibol blo mipla, veksin blo bebi sut ol brukim, ol nes blo mipla tu ol paitim ol lo ston na botol.” (They broke our table and vials, and hit our nurses using stones and bottles.)
Apisai said the perpetrator escaped when police were called in to assist them.
When the team started off their program near the Buimo Correctional Service, they were threatened with bush knives, stones and iron rods.
Geoffrey Lalio, who is also a social mobiliser, said their next stop near Banana Block was where they were attacked while the community just stood and watched.
“Everyone was there, ol plei kas, sampla kam lo kisim marasin,” said Lalio. (Everyone was there; some were playing cards while others came to get medicine.)
“Beibi sut em wanpla pikinini wantem mama papa blo em ol kam so mipla wok lo helpim ol stap ya, incident ya kamap. (A couple brought their child to get immunised and as we were helping them, the incident happened.)
“Everybody was there but ol no meikim wanpla samting bikos olgeta sherim wanpla tingting olsem vaccination blo COVID-19 ya, em wankain olsem immunisation program. (Everybody was there but they didn’t bother to help because they were sharing similar sentiments that it was a COVID-19 vaccination program.)
“So disla misunderstanding wokim nau, nogat man kam lo helpim mipla.” (Because of that misunderstanding, no one came to our aid.)
The team was at the Lae Top Town Police Station to file their complaint. They then left for ANGAU to get checked as well as bring back medical reports to add to their police complaint.
The Nurses Association Morobe, in frustration, have threatened to stop work starting Monday, the 25th of October.