PNG will not be ready to move out of the Gavi support – a global vaccination alliance for children – as scheduled in 2020, Deputy Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala says.
He said with the country’s economic downturn and recent outbreaks of vaccines preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio, PNG would not able to go without help in two years.
Gavi is an international organisation – a global vaccine alliance bringing together the public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi is funded by an alliance of partners that include 24 governments, European Union, Opec Fund for International Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a substantial number of private and corporate partners.
The organisation supports routine vaccines across 71 countries, including PNG.
“It would be interesting to see how this support can be held for us so that it might go up until 2025,” Dakulala said.
“PNG has received more than US$34 million (K128.7 million) through Gavi support since 2006 to finance the procurement of new vaccines and to strengthen the country’s immunisation programmes, supply chain systems and service delivery.”
Through this support PNG, received new vaccines and those were for six vaccine-treatable diseases – tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and measles.
But PNG’s immunisation coverage still stands at 60 per cent, which is the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region, and is also the only country in that region yet to eliminate maternal and neonatal deaths.
Dakulala said outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and, more recently polio, indicated that children had not been routinely and consistently vaccinated.
PNG’s low immunisation coverage had multi-factorial causes and one of them was money.
Dakulala said the provincial health systems did not have the capacity, human resources, logistics and lacked resources for outreach programmes. The National
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