The PNG National Department of Health has confirmed two positive cases of Measles on the 22nd of December, 2019 by laboratory test performed at our Central Public Health laboratory here in Port Moresby. Two of the positive cases are from the Gulf and New Ireland Provinces respectively. The suspected cases were detected through our heightened surveillance system due to the current Measles outbreaks within our region.
Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person through the air, by breathing, coughing and sneezing. In 2019, over a million children under 5 years were vaccinated, that is more than 95% of the National targeted population. However, because of the history of low immunization coverage in PNG this could result in possible outbreaks of measles within PNG.
I urge the general public not to panic; we are working in close collaboration with the provinces. It is still uncertain if there are more measles cases in the communities, but we’re taking all necessary measures to ensure the situation remains under control. New Ireland and Gulf provinces have already responded by sending out teams to investigate and carryout preventative measures including vaccination to targeted age groups to control the situation.
The Department of Health acknowledges the support of the New Irelands Provincial Health Authority, Gulf Provincial Health Authority & Oil Search Foundation for assisting in the investigation of the suspected cases. Oil Search Foundation assisted Gulf Provincial Health Authority with logistics, technical team support in terms of providing chopper, medical team for the initial investigation, sample collection and shipment to the laboratory.
Measles attacks the most vulnerable and the unvaccinated children. Therefore, the Secretary again call on parents/care givers to take your child aged 6 months – 2 years old to the nearest Health Facility for immunization. The measles vaccine is safe and effective and it’s free.
Once again, if you suspect that you or your child may have measles, notify your doctor or health provider and avoid crowds and public spaces to prevent the spread of measles.
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