The United Kingdom has announced a Support Package of K4.3 million to help Papua New Guinea in the fight against COVID-19.
UK’s Minister for Pacific and the Environment, Lord Zac Goldsmith made the announcement during a video call with Prime Minister James Marape recently.
K3 million will be provided through WHO for equipment and training under PNG’s COVID-19 Response Plan.
UK Support is funding a range of medical equipment, such as ventilators, portable oxygen concentrators, resuscitators, portable heart monitoring machines, and Xrays and patient monitoring systems, along with training on how to use this equipment, to help strengthen tertiary healthcare facilities in the region.
Another K1 million has been given to UNICEF to fund Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) projects in 40 Schools in Goroka and Mt Hagen, benefitting 8,000 children.
The UNICEF grant from UK will also fund COVID-19 awareness through the song “Wok Bung Wantaim”, which is being played nationally on TV and radio, and the training of health workers in Goroka and Mt Hagen, who will reach an estimated 20,000 people through community outreach.
Further support includes the production of COVID-19 awareness booklets in Tok Pisin, Motu, and Bahasa and small infrastructure improvement to St John Ambulance’s Port Moresby headquarters.
UK is also considering PNG’s request to contribute to international Emergency Medical Teams.
Their longer-term support to the country’s health sector includes a K35 million project to help PNG tackle drug-resistant diseases through laboratory refurbishment and in-country training. This project is on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The UK has also provided technical assistance through the UK-funded Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN), with free healthcare standards from the British Standards Institute, including protective clothing and masks and equipment. The CSN is also running training courses to help organisations in PNG prepare for shocks, including pandemics.
CSN is a K5 million UK-funded project, supported by the British Standards Institute, to support the PNG National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology (NISIT) in setting – and encouraging PNG business to use – international recognised standards and so promote exports to other Commonwealth countries.
This is in addition to the UK’s advocacy for PNG’s COVID response in international fora, particularly supporting the release of US$364 million in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund’s Rapid Credit Facility.
British High Commissioner to PNG Keith Scott says UK is delighted to support PNG and said Uk’s commitment to help PNG fight COVID-19 is evidence of the two country’s long-standing historical relationship.
“We want to help PNG not only meet its immediate needs but also develop resilience in the health sector and beyond.
“It’s not just about money; it’s about providing PNG with the tools it needs to build a better future, adds Commissioner Scott.