Teams discuss next stage of mass polio vaccination in PNG

Almost 300 000 children under the age of 5 in Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands Provinces were vaccinated in the first round of the polio campaign in Papua New Guinea. Picture: WHO

PORT MORESBY, 14 AUGUST 2018 (POST COURIER) – Polio emergency operation teams in Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands provinces in Papua New Guinea have met to discuss ways for the round two polio campaign to begin next week.

The teams met last week in Madang and discussed strengths and weaknesses of the first polio vaccination programme and improvements to be made for the effective delivery of the second round.

Morobe provincial health adviser and provincial emergency coordinator Micah Yawing said the meeting paves way for discussions in which all the teams shared their experiences during the first round campaign and how best they can prepare for the second campaign.

“When the first polio case was confirmed, these three provinces were declared high risk provinces because of road accessibility. So our aim of meeting was to see our strengths and weaknesses and work out how we can carry out the second round campaign without repeating the past mistakes that hindered our operations,” he said.

He said two weeks of the mass vaccination campaign was a big challenge with so many encounters, but the teams took every situation as a lesson to improve on in the next three rounds ahead.

“It’s a big challenge for us but the two weeks were a lesson learnt for us. It is an emergency siuation and by working together it proved to be a positive achievement for the provinces, especially on vaccination coverage,” Yawing said.

He said Morobe Province has reached an overwhelming coverage in which all stakeholders in the province have put their efforts together one way or the other to achieve such a result in the first programme.

He said the Health Department has confirmed one more case in Enga, which is why it is impoprtant that everyone works together to reach the common goal of preventing the spread of the disease and eradicating it in the provinces and the country.

“We have one week remaining before we start round two. At this stage we are focused on carrying out social mobilisation into the communities to make awareness on the round two vaccination dates and encourage mothers to bring their children under five years for vaccination,” he said. Madang provincial emergency coordinator Paul Mabong could not be reached for information on Madang’s coverage of the round one campaign.

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