PM Directs Vaccination Roll Out

Prime Minister, James Marape has ordered a step up in vaccination roll out, improved communication between the Department of Health, provincial health authorities and stakeholders to contain the spread of COVID-19 strain Delta variant.

This includes getting the Government to look into insuring frontline healthcare workers - doctors, nurses and those directly involved in handling the pandemic response.

He immediately met with his key ministers and members of the National Pandemic Control Centre upon arrival from New York last Sunday to be updated on the status of the pandemic during his 11 days of absence in the country.

In the meeting was Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, Jelta Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Soroi Eoe, Controller of the National COVID-19 Response David Manning and Health Secretary, Dr. Osborne Liko and senior health staff.

The Prime Minister said: “We must dramatically increase our roll out of vaccines around the country. There is a lot that we have done well since the pandemic struck us in early 2020, but there is still a lot more that we need to do.

“We must reinforce and improve engagement between the Department of Health and our provincial health authorities (PHA).

“This war against COVID-19 will not be won by departments in Waigani issuing orders to our people in the regions but through a stronger working partnership between stakeholders.

“Our local authorities and health workers are on the battlefront. They know what must be done to prevent more people from getting sick and dying, and what is needed to increase vaccination.”

PM Marape has asked for a better line of communication for key data coming from provinces to the National Control Centre and the Department of Health.

“This information will enable better planning and the swifter allocation of resources from the National Government and our partners.

“We can do more testing, we can provide more beds, medicines and vital inputs such as oxygen to treat the sick.”

The Prime Minister further directed a faster and bigger expansion of the vaccination program around the country.

Prime Minister James Marape has appealed to all health workers to be vaccinated because of the high risk their employment places on them.

"While vaccine remains optional I am encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. Vaccines save lives. 

“There is a relative increase in vaccination, but it is still a tiny margin; we still have a long way to go before we reach that satisfactory target many countries have already reached for their people.

Also, in recognizing the dangerous operating environment health care staff work in, the Prime Minister further directed the Department of Health to immediately identify and implement health insurance options for all frontline health workers.

“As a nation we cannot afford to see any more of our skilled healthcare workers contracting COVID-19. We cannot afford to lose any more, especially in the face of our straining health capacity in the country.

"Vaccination and better vaccination is our best strategy to overcome this crisis."

As a response to the Prime Minister's call, the health ministry has initiated the COVID-19 Vaccine Ministerial Task Force that will work across departments and with provincial administrations to immediately step up on vaccination roll out in a bigger way.

To support the work of the Health Department and the NCC, Marape has assured more engagement between Waigani and provinces in the non-clinical area, especially through the offices of provincial governors and their administrators.

“Where there are gaps in the support to health response, they will be filled and overcome - be this in managing the movement of people in large gatherings, through security and policing, or in education and awareness.

“The National Isolation Strategy is in place with clear focus on the most significant COVID-19 hotspot provinces, and in other provinces where there is an alarming spread of the Delta variant.

“But make no mistake, we have a long way to go to contain this spread and protecting our people. Through the Controller of the National COVID-19 Response, and the Secretary of the Department of Health, our latest directives are being enacted.”

The Prime Minister also took the time to convey his gratitude on behalf for the nation to those involved in managing and executing COVID-19 response in the country for their commitment and efforts.

"We have survived so many crises and tragedies in the past. We can survive this one too. 

"Let us all get vaccinated so we have a better chance of overcoming the crisis of this pandemic.

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