Papua New Guinea COVID-19 package welcomed

17 Mar 21

Caritas Australia welcomes the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia has allocated 8000 vaccines, as well as personal protective equipment and medical specialists, to support Papua New Guinea with its recent mass outbreak of COVID-19.

The Australian Government has also ordered one million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine for Papua New Guinea out of Australia’s contracted supplies.

This support comes at a crucial time, as Papua New Guinea faces a potentially catastrophic outbreak of the COVID-19, with nearly 100 new cases reported daily and fears that the lack of available tests and long waiting times to receive test results, mean that there are far more active cases than reported.

Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia, said “Today, the Australian Government has really stepped up to provide support where and when it matters most. We’ve seen time and time again that the swifter our response to COVID-19, the more lives will be saved.”

“We have been working with local communities and church partners in PNG for over 50 years, and know from experience that local people are best placed to respond to crises, because they understand the context and challenges.”

Diane Unagi, Caritas Australia Country Representative for Papua New Guinea, said “Health facilities across Papua New Guinea have struggled with a lack of medical supplies over the past year as they respond to COVID-19, so supplies of personal protective equipment will make an immediate difference where it matters.”

“Roughly half of the schools and health facilities in Papua New Guinea are run by churches, which means that working through existing church networks is one of the most efficient ways to counter misinformation and build trust.”

“Church networks are able to reach deep into communities, including the most marginalised – such as those living with disabilities, women experiencing gender-based violence, and communities in remote and extremely rural locations.”

Caritas Australia is supporting church and NGO partners on the ground, prioritising preventative health measures, including community education.

Caritas Australia is accepting donations to help support vulnerable communities facing COVID-19 through the COVID-19 Appeal. Visit caritas.org.au or call 1800 024 413 toll free to provide much needed support to some of our closest neighbours.  

Media contact: Jessica Stone on  jessica.stone@caritas.org.au or caritasmedia@caritas.org.au.

Note:

Diane Unagi, Caritas Australia’s Country Representative for Papua New Guinea is available for interview from PNG

Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia is available for interview