Australian public support health aid for PNG

By Melissa Coade

Monday April 12, 2021

Citizens at the Butiban Health Clinic in Lae, Marobe Province, Papua New Guinea. (AAP Image for Gavi/Brendan Esposito)

YouGov polling of more than 1,000 people indicates overwhelming public support for the Australian government to help Papua New Guinea stop the spread of COVID-19.

Polling commissioned by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) this month revealed that 84% of Aussies believe the Australian government should be supporting PNG to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This poll should reassure politicians of all stripes that the public overwhelmingly backs swift and decisive action to help PNG,” ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said.

Australian epidemiologists estimate cases in PNG may reach 1 million by May.

The federal government announced it would assist its near neighbour’s escalating COVID-19 crisis with a health package for PNG, plus 10,000 vaccines a week for Melanesian countries and Timor-Leste.

In response to news of Australia’s support, Mr Purcell said this was a critical step in tackling the epidemic across PNG’s 22 provinces. He called for more Australian health experts to be deployed overseas to assist with the public health response.

“PNG cases of COVID-19 have doubled in 16 days and in the last week, and according to report two of the six confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the Eastern Highlands were health workers,” Mr Purcell said.

“By tomorrow morning, more Australian health experts will be on the frontline alongside Papua New Guineans helping critically ill patients.”

Mr Purcell said the PNG health package will include the supply of equipment such as testing kits, which would keep local health facilities to control the transmission of the virus.

“There is no time to lose in vaccinating the people of PNG. Not only do we need to get vaccines into the country, we need to get them into arms.

“The Australian Government is swinging behind our friends in PNG,” he added.


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