The Australian Government’s support for Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 response is welcome, but is insufficient and too late, said Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“The outbreak in PNG is rapidly escalating, with hospitals and clinics overwhelmed and many health workers already infected. What’s needed is a bigger response, now, before the situation gets out of control,” said MSF Australia Executive Director Jennifer Tierney.
Despite the worsening outbreak, the country is yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccines. “Timing is everything in controlling outbreaks, as MSF knows well through our responses to outbreaks globally, and vaccination of health workers is well overdue in the Pacific.”
MSF has worked in PNG for many years running tuberculosis programs, and has supported COVID-19 diagnosis at the Rita Flynn testing centre in Port Moresby since October 2020. Our team in Port Moresby is currently assessing what the most effective and efficient support is for MSF to provide, given the shortage of staff not only for COVID-19 related medical care but also to sustain the regular healthcare activities in PNG, which risk being disrupted.