PNG needs a fighting chance to beat this - ACFID

17 Mar, 2021

The Caritas team unloading a container of PPE in Papua New Guinea. Photo: Caritas Australia.

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – the peak-body for Australian international development NGOs – has praised the Australian Government’s package of measures in response to the escalating situation in PNG.

CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell said:

“This package of measures is the Australian response we need for our nearest neighbour. The immediate 8,000 vaccinations for health care workers is vital and the proposed allocation of 1 million vaccines for PNG is an act of leadership by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

“PNG needs a fighting chance to beat this, and frontline doctors and nurses could be the difference between keeping this under control or utter catastrophe for PNG’s health system.

“As Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has said, there are severe limitations in developing countries in tackling COVID-19. Australia’s aid program is the best tool we have for combating the spread of the disease in our region and it’s time to use all the resources and expertise we have at our disposal.

“Not only is this a crisis for PNG, it is currently the biggest threat to Australia’s domestic response to COVID-19. We have already seen the very real risk posed to Queenslanders play out at Cairns Hospital.

“In addition to the international transmission, the major risk for the epidemic within communities in PNG is that the virus takes hold, spreads further and mutates, just like the UK and South African variants,.

“Countering misinformation and building trust will be essential to getting testing, protection and vaccines effectively into PNG communities. The mobilisation of trusted local community organisations and churches will be fundamental.

“Australian development and humanitarian organisations have projects on the ground already responding to this and will support the Australian Government.”

ENDS

ACFID CEO Marc Purcell is available for comment. To arrange, please contact Tim Watkin on 0401 721 064.