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Mass Polio vaccination campaign launched in PNG

The four rounds of sub-national mass vaccination campaign against polio in three high risk provinces in Papua New Guinea has been launched by Minister for Health and HIV and AIDS Sir Puka Temu in Lae Monday.

Sir Puka said the government is committed to working with partners from World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other global partners to re-eradicate polio in the country.

“The commitment of the government and the department is for PNG to be declared again as polio free. It is a status that we must achieve and the world is watching us now.

“So, our biggest challenge is to make sure our cold chain systems with our special immunisation programs are done effectively and we can go back to effective routine immunisation programs,” Sir Puka said.

He said the four rounds of sub-national mass vaccination campaign programme will go in all the communities of the Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands provinces simultaneously effective as of Monday.

WHO country representative Luo Dapeng said for the next two weeks, the wide vaccination of all children under five years will be on in these provinces to protect them against polio.

“We are doing the same vaccination campaigns in two other provinces of Madang and Eastern Highlands,” Mr Dapeng said.

More than 300, 000 children under the age of five have been targeted for the immunisation programme in the three provinces.

UNICEF officer in charge and deputy representative Judith Bruno said their priority is to achieve the highest possible polio coverage for these provinces.

“Our priority now is to achieve the highest possible polio immunisation coverage to stop the circulation of the virus because the threat will remain as long as children in this country are not consistently and routinely immunised against polio.

“UNICEF is fully committed to supporting government efforts led by the department of health and WHO to re-eradicate polio in PNG,” Bruno said.

UNICEF has procured and delivered 611,00 doses of polio vaccines early this month to support the emergency vaccination for children in the three provinces.

Sir Puka has confirmed K6 million funding from the national government is earmarked for the polio immunisation coverage in the provinces.

He also aims to secure additional funding to increase efforts to revamp the health surveillance systems and take care of any detected polio cases in other provinces.

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