Risky For Health Workers

Friday’s attack on health workers at West Taraka in Lae was not the first of its kind.

Early that week, a vaccination awareness team was stoned and verbally abused at Top Town.

Misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccine has created panic, especially within the lower echelons of society that have a vast majority of illiterate to semi-literate citizens.

With no awareness, the populace was left to its own device, where conspiracy theories spread like wildfire, igniting the fear of vaccination and a general distrust of anyone who is pro-vaccination.  

On Monday, the 18th of October, a vaccination team from Morobe’s public health sector set up at Top Town.

They were surrounded in no time by an angry mob that yelled for them to take the vaccines away.

The team was sworn at as well as pelted with stones.

Four days later, an immunisation team at West Taraka was attacked while members of the community just stood and watched.

Two of their social mobilisers were wounded while their medical supplies were destroyed.

President of Nurses Association Morobe, Siling Awasa, said the nurses have been battling the pandemic for two years now with little support.

“We are actually in the process of giving a letter to our boss, the CEO of MoPHA, to see what the authorities are doing about mitigating the spread of the virus,” she said.

“Many issues on the frontline, the nurses are the ones facing these issues. We have a lot of issues with patient care, we don’t have the PPE – even if we have – it’s maybe just the mask without the coverall or without the gown, without the goggles.”

Sister Awasa said COVID-19 misinformation has made their jobs risky while the lack of support from provincial and city authorities is demoralising.

“We want to see the best for not only the nurses but for the people that we are serving as well,” she stated.

“We need our higher authorities to really take charge of the situation in Lae city; the law and order situation that is happening every day, the social issues. People are drinking as if there is no pandemic, people are walking around as if there’s nothing happening.”

The nurses believe the way forward is for the provincial and city authorities to work together to safeguard everyone.

(A crowd gathering near the vaccination team’s setup)

Carmella Gware