The Sustainable Development Goals in Papua New Guinea
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Papua New Guinea:
19 May 2021
New Tech Seeks to Boost Storytelling from Western Province
On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, a small team of media, ICT, and disaster response professionals from Western Provincial Administration are gathered around a drone by a roadside outside Kiunga. After attempting to launch in two No Fly Zones, the team is now set to practice using their new device – a tool to capture the unique landscapes that underpin many of the development challenges facing North Fly. The drone takes flight with shouts of excitement. It was handed over along with audio equipment, a new camera, and accessories as part of a two day workshop on humanitarian communications for the team in Western Province who had requested support for their communications capacity. “We have platforms that we’ve been building for over two years now,” says Provincial Broadcast and Media Officer Deborah Moses. “But we need equipment to be able to publish good quality content. We have so many projects we are doing but this isn’t properly captured.” One of the top pieces of equipment on Deborah’s list was a drone. “The reason we haven’t been able to capture our work is mainly geography. We’ll be visiting a village but project sites are a distance away.” “The logistics for Western Province has been one of our biggest challenges.” Large areas of wetlands, a lack of road access to remote communities, and seasonal fluctuations leaving communities inaccessible by boat for prolonged periods, are critical considerations for essentials such as healthcare, education and water. Images that concisely and effectively show the landscape and waterways provide valuable context for development partners, especially international donors. “We felt that by having a drone we’ll be able to portray the context,” says Deborah. This content will complement the work of colleagues like Solomon Kunika, from the information division, who is working with the monitoring and evaluation team on building a database to record and assess projects. “I come from an IT background,” said Solomon. “Through this training, stressing collaboration, the work can have an impact within our division and for the whole province” Solomon also noted how the new equipment will help the division to operate more economically. “Sometimes Deborah and Michael have to jump on a chopper to get to an area,” he said. “So the drone will greatly reduce the cost of accessing these areas.” Fellow ICT team member Ronnie Awagila added “I’m just getting started in this field. This training very exciting.” While this week’s training focused on communications, the new technology can also help the team monitor and report on conditions and emergencies around the Fly and Alice Rivers. With a range of up to 10km, the drone can provide images of communities affected by drought or flooding faster and safer than by boat or road. Information division team leader Michael Wangihomie welcomed the participation of two members of the province’s Division of Disaster and Emergency. “Our team usually clicks very well,” he said. “Now, with the guys from the disaster and emergency team, we could all work together.” Michael shared Deborah’s enthusiasm for the opportunities presented by the new equipment. “Sometimes good pictures are only as good as the equipment you use,” he said. “So I have really appreciated this workshop.” Provincial Administrator Robert Kaiyun said the new equipment was important for the team. "We have a dynamic team and this is a part of our effort's to build the team's capacity to deliver services and communicate effectively," he said. "Thank you UNDP, coming back again and again to support our needs." This training was organised by UNDP Papua New Guinea with the organisation providing over 20,000 Kina worth of new equipment for the Western Province Administration team. This support complements humanitarian assistance provided to North Fly District throughout the COVID pandemic as the region has experienced one of the highest incidences of COVID cases in Papua New Guinea.
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19 May 2021
Essential Hygiene Supplies Delivered to Women Living with HIV/AIDS
Around 20 women and girls in Western Province have been given dignity kits from UNFPA ahead of a vigil at Good Samaritan Care Centre in Kiunga. Each kit contains essential hygiene items including soap, toiletries, and pads, in additional to a towel, slippers, and solar light. These supplies were a welcome gift for these women and are just some of the hundreds of kits provided by UNFPA to women across the country, including new mothers and asylum seekers in Western Province and displaced persons in Hela. The women gathered, together with other men and children, to commemorate those in their community who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. This annual vigil is an opportunity to remember those they have lost and to reconnect with those who share their experience. During the COVID pandemic, UNAIDS Papua New Guinea has been working to ensure a regular supply of essential medicines for persons living with HIV across the country. In Kiunga, some people travel over 100kms to collect a three-month supply of medication from the sisters at Good Samaritan. Provisions of essential supplies, like those provided by UNFPA, are valuable in demonstrating to these often-ostracized communities that the UN is committed to leaving no one behind during the COVID pandemic. Local staff from IOM has been assisting the distribution of kits in Western Province as UNFPA and IOM continue to support strengthened water, sanitation and health projects in North Fly District as part of the COVID-19 Multi-Partner Trust Fund.
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10 May 2021
Seeing Post-Pandemic Health Opportunities
On Friday, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is incredible to think that in a little over a year since the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a vaccine has been developed and is being administered here in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Of course, I am in Port Moresby and am receiving my vaccine at a private hospital. Ensuring vaccines are available to communities around the country will be the true test. Reaching remote communities I have been fortunate during my time in PNG to be able to travel to some of the planet’s most unique and vulnerable landscapes. When I travel, I am constantly reminded of just how remote some communities in PNG truly are. North Fly is an area in PNG’s Western Province, bordering Indonesia. The area was one of the first to report cases of COVID and now has one of the highest counts of COVID-19 cases in the country. It is also home to some of the most difficult-to-reach communities in the region and hosts asylum seekers. Some riverside communities are entirely inaccessible during the dry season. At the start of the pandemic, I visited Rumginae Hospital, a referral hospital about an hour’s drive from the region’s major town of Kiunga, to speak with Dr Kevin Pondikou – the hospital’s only doctor – and his staff. Dr Kevin showed us the storerooms which were running low on personal protective equipment (PPE). A new diagnostic machine was sitting in a box because travel restrictions meant the technician had not been able to travel to install it. A few weeks after this visit, colleagues from UNFPA returned to Rumginae. A young woman came in suffering from shock. She had delivered a baby three weeks earlier in her village without a midwife or any medical support. Bleeding heavily, she and her mother walked for close to one day to reach the aid post at Mougolou, from where she was airlifted to Kiunga and then brought to Rumginae where she received a blood transfusion. Healthcare providers like the team at Rumginae were stretching their resources to treat patients even before a surge in cases in February 2021. Preventing severe complications from COVID is vital to keeping this hospital open. Vaccine Equity We have received 132,000 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. Despite the incredible achievement in bringing a vaccine to so many developing countries within such a short time, this shipment arrived too late for the 91 people, including one of our colleagues, who had died from COVID-19 in PNG up until mid-April. [see the Papua New Guinea COVID-19 country dashboard for the latest figures and updates] Additionally, that shipment contained less than half of the 288,000 vaccines that PNG was originally assigned. We need to push for better distribution of vaccines to the most vulnerable. And that doesn’t end with a photo op at Port Moresby’s Jacksons Airport. It ends when every person in this half island nation of 7.4 million has been given the choice to get the vaccine. Focusing on opportunities Reaching communities like Rumginae is of course a major challenge, but an achievable one. In 2018, WHO and UNICEF vaccinated 3.1 million children against polio within only a few months of an outbreak being announced. The challenge we have on our hands with COVID is that the virus and the vaccine are new, leading to significant skepticism and vaccine hesitancy. As more young people are connected to the internet, vaccine conspiracy spreads like wildfire. Rumors reach these communities before we can. However, to focus on the scale of this challenge ignores the opportunities. The public health information we share now – on how a virus is spread and on how vaccines work – sets us and the local health system on a better platform to combat future pandemics. We are building a vocabulary that will help us tackle existing challenges like TB and HIV/AIDS. Passing the test Funding to the COVID response has enabled IOM and UNICEF to build water facilities in North Fly, and to support the districts most vulnerable. We have also demonstrated, at the regional and global level, that PNG has friends all over the world who are ready and willing step up to support. Development partners and the private sector have donated tonnes of PPE, testing kits and lab consumables, medical devices and personnel, and vaccines. This pandemic is testing our capacity for cooperation and I believe it is a test we will pass.
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16 June 2021
Survey Finds 52% of People Living with HIV Would Take the COVID-19 Vaccine
A recent study on COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among people living with HIV and key populations has found 52% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) would take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available to them. Despite cases continuing to climb, just 25% of survey respondents thought getting the vaccine would protect others in their community from being infected with COVID-19. Vaccine acceptability was highest among younger respondents, with 56% of survey respondents 20 and under keen to take the vaccine, compared to just 32% over the age of 51. The survey was conducted by leading HIV group KP Advocacy Consortium PNG with assistance from UNAIDS, The Global Fund, FHI 360 and the National Department of Health. The survey asked respondents whether they would get the vaccine as well as questions vaccine safety and misinformation. Critically, more respondents were concerned about severe reactions from the vaccine (38%), than were concerned about the virus itself (33%). These concerns are likely a response to the prevalence of negative information on vaccines with 65% of respondents reporting they had seen negative information on COVID-19 vaccines. This includes 75% of respondents in National Capital District and 83% who were also the least likely to take the vaccine, with just 25% of NCD and 31% of Madang respondents willing to take the vaccine. Just 24% of respondents reported that they think the COVID-19 vaccine is very safe. Results from the survey will help UNAIDS and partners address the concerns of these key populations as COVID cases continue to rise across Papua New Guinea. The coordinator of the KP Advocacy Consortium, Lesley Bola indicated that he is overwhelmed with the support from all partners and the communities. “It is alarming to re-confirm how Facebook has contributed to mis-conceptions about the vaccination,” he said. “The results come in handy to start developing targeted messages to encourage everyone to start accessing the vaccine.” A follow up survey to see if there is any shift in acceptance to getting the vaccination will be conducted in next 5-6 months. People Living with HIV and COVID-19 Vaccines UNAIDS has released guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine that states “The COVID-19 vaccines under development or approved by regulators are believed to be safe for most people, including people living with HIV.” “COVID-19 vaccines bring the same benefits to people living with HIV as they bring to all individuals and communities—prevention of severe disease due to SARS-CoV-2 and potentially reduced transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is therefore no reason why people living with HIV should not take the vaccine when offered it.” About KP Advocacy Consortium PNG The Key Populations Consortium PNG is a network of community-based organizations, bringing together the work and dedication of Igat Hope, Friends Frangipani, and Kapul Champions. UNAIDS, with support from the Global Fund and National Department of Health, has supported KP Advocacy Consortium PNG in several initiatives to protect people living with HIV from COVID-19 and the impacts of pandemic control measures. Since March 2020, the organization supported the community through surveying people living with HIV, mapping key clinics, monitoring antiretroviral drug supplies, and participating in the inter-agency Protection Cluster that addresses immediate and secondary impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. This work has been instrumental in ensuring the needs of people living with HIV are met despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
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09 April 2021
UN Agencies Continue Support to COVID Prevention and Control Across PNG
UN support to the COVID-19 response in Papua New Guinea has been led by WHO and UNICEF, who are assisting the PNG Government in emergency and humanitarian coordination, clinical management and procurement, risk communications and community engagement, protection and secondary impacts, and socio-economic impact and recovery. In 2021 we will be welcoming the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and work with our partners to set a path for recovery, including socio-economic assessments and support to the hardest hit populations. The weekly COVID-19 National situation report, jointly published by NDOH and WHO, details the scope of the pandemic in PNG and the national response effort. More information on UN assistance provided in 2020 is available at papuanewguinea.un.org. Here is a look at what we've been doing around the country in March. Kiunga, Western Province IOM Installs Handwash Stations at Kiunga Airport, Improves Toilet Facilities in Western Province IOM completed a comprehensive rehabilitation of the toilet facilities at Kiunga Airport, creating a safer environment for travelers. The team installed a handwash station on entry. The team installed latrines in several locations including schools, health facilities and local communities, benefitting at least 8,949 people. Installations of solar panels and accessories across several communities has improved lighting of common areas around latrines. This additional light improves the safety especially of women and girls when accessing the facilities at night. IOM estimates this initiative will improve the safety of over 30,000 people in Western Province. UNFPA Delivers PPE to Kiunga Hospital, Customised Dignity Kits With the given surge of covid 19 cases, UNFPA supplied various essential PPE to Kiunga Hospital, Western Province and Port Moresby General Hospital. These include 500 reusable face shields, 500 long sleeve gowns, 15,000 examination gloves, 2000 surgical gloves, 30,000 disposal facemask, 300 protective goggles and 44 thermometers. UNFPA locally procured 600 customised Dignity Kits enroute to Kiunga, Western Province. IOM Provides WASH Supplies to Communities and Defence Personnel in Western Province IOM distributed soap and water containers to 1,203 people in Western Province, with additional wheelie bins (25), dust bins (14), hand gloves (24) and rubber boots (24). The team supplied collapsible water containers, tents and sleeping bags to the PNG Defence Force Forward Operating Base in Kiunga that is responsible for monitoring points of entry along PNG’s Western Border. Tari, Hela Province UNFPA Supports Emergency Response, Provides PPE and Dignity Kits UNFPA procured and distributed 400 Dignity Kits to displaced women and girls that were affected by the inter-clan violence in Tari Pori District. UNFPA procured 800 PPE to support the participants of a Gender Based Violence in Emergency training and staff at Tari Hospital. Through the emergency response projects, UNFPA, in partnership with PNG Family Health Association and Hela Provincial Health Authority, established sexual and reproductive health mobile clinics at four sites in Tari, Hela Province to support and provide services to internally displaced women and girls as well as the host community who cannot access the main hospital freely due to ongoing insecurity. Currently the team is conducting training on Minimum Initial Service Package in Tari to 9 males and 8 females with plans to conduct Clinical Management of Rape Training in April. Providing PPE ensures these essential services can remain open and operate safely. “On a daily basis, we check if the IDP [Internally Displaced People] have any sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), rape cases, pregnant mothers or injuries," sais Sister Mae Lohis, team leader of one of PNG Family Health Association's mobile clinics in Tari. "We are providing the necessary care that they should receive during this time of crisis, including awareness raising on safe sex, family planning, and teenage pregnancies.” Support to People Living with HIV UNAIDS works with COVID19-HIV Crisis Group on Support to PLHIV Together with the COVID19-HIV Crisis Group, including WHO, NDoH, World Vision, USAID, and FHI360, UNAIDS is ensuring services for PLHIV continue to operate during the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The team is also working on messaging surrounding the vaccine for PLHIV and key populations. With high level of COVID 19 vaccine hesitancy and misconceptions among PLHIV and key populations, UNAIDS have developed a short vaccine acceptability survey deployed by the KP consortium in late March. From the results, the current FAQs will be revised and targeted for this population. Support to Emergency Services UNDP Procures Additional Ambulances, Delivers Training to Frontline Medics UNDP is partnering with the national ambulance service, St John’s Ambulance, to upgrade of a number of ambulances across the country with support from the Government of India. Progress the procurement of new ambulances which will be greatly strengthen the capacity of Papua New Guinea’s health system to respond to COVID’s impacts. A funding agreement with UNDP has also supported training of frontline medics and the procurement of additional medical equipment to support an expansion of services. This will also contribute to broader strengthening of the health system. UN agencies have secured funding from Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, United States and the World Bank. Additional support was provided through the UN Secretary General’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund for COVID-19 which ensures UN activities can reach the most at-risk populations during this pandemic. The UN is also engaging with donors to re-programme funding where relevant.
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