THE Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic response has created the opportunity to strengthen the health system in Papua New Guinea but it is still not ready to deal with another surge, a senior doctor says.
PNG's National Pandemic Response deputy controller Dr Daoni Esorom said the country could not be complacent because Covid-19 infection numbers were not coming in.
He said continuous efforts needed to be put into building the capacity of the health sector from human resource to equipment because Papua New Guinea’s health system was still weak.
He said the decision to have the country go through a state of emergency in 2020 for three months protected the country from potentially severely impacts of the pandemic.
“One of the positive things that came out from the pandemic was having the Pandemic Act (2020) which provided the legal frame work for the response,” he said.
“Many laws that we have to go through in responding to the pandemic were very old and so our legal team had to get through them and come up with this law which is applicable to not only Covid-19 but any pandemics in the future.
“We are one of the first countries in the world to have a law like this,” he said.
“The PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) has also stepped up in the pandemic.
“They can now screen and diagnose Monkeypox which is another infection of concern.”
He said some other achievements from the response included establishing a command centre and control for the pandemic, maintaining the economy, mobilising financial resources, signing on with the Covax Facility to have access to the vaccine and strengthening the health system.
He said when the Covid-19 emergency medical team was set up, an infection prevention policy was developed and training conducted, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and capacity improved, oxygen concentrators procured and built.
He said there were emerging infectious diseases such as other Covid-19 variants of concern, Avian influenzas, airborne viruses such as dengue fever and zika, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV-AIDS.
Dr Esorom called for further strengthening of public health and collaboration with partners.
The National / PNG Health Watch
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