By Staycey Yalo, EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Government of Papua New Guinea today (June 26) declared a polio outbreak as national public health emergency.
The Government also confirmed circulation of vaccine derived polio virus (cVDPV) in Morobe province whilst the UN has launched a response to contain the outbreak.
WHO Representative in PNG, Dr Luo Dapeng, said through a media release, that WHO has already surged three experts from its headquarter and regional office to support the government in planning its interventions, and has mobilized about PGK1.6 million to support the government’s actions.
To control the outbreak, the UN is supporting PNG Government in launching a polio campaign that will include two rounds of a Supplementary Immunisation Activity (SIA) for Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands Provinces.
First round will start on July 16 followed by the second round four to six weeks later. UNICEF is procuring 611, 000 doses of oral polio virus vaccine to immunise approximately 300, 000 children of less than five years old in these three provinces.
“We have to ensure that all children are consistently and routinely immunised against polio, the threat is there. We have to protect our children from falling victim to poliovirus,” said David Mcloughlin, UNICEF Representative in Papua New Guinea.
The UN is also working with the government to strengthen routine immunization and surveillance in hospitals and health facilities across the country.
UN Resident Coordinator in PNG, Mr Gianluca Rampolla said “While the outbreak is very concerning, it is controllable if right measures are taken on time. We are fully working with government of Papua New Guinea to respond to the outbreak. We will take every measure possible to prevent the future cases.”
WHO assesses the risk of international spread of the cVDPV from Papua New Guinea to other countries to be minimum.