The COVID-19 crisis in Papua New Guinea is escalating
The lives of children and families in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are at risk because of a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases since mid-February 2021.
COVID-19 infections are soaring at a seemingly uncontrollable rate. Vaccination rates across PNG are dangerously low. Doctors are scarce, with fewer than 1,000 in the entire country. The health workforce lacks the resources and number of staff it needs to maintain even basic programs. Widespread community transmission also means the number of people dying from the disease is increasing.
Papua New Guinea’s already fragile and under-resourced health system is under enormous pressure. Large numbers of health workers and patients are being diagnosed with the virus, and hospitals across the country are being forced to shut wards and departments.
People are becoming extremely ill with COVID-19 and many have already lost their lives to the disease. But the lives of children and families who can no longer access essential health services are also in danger.
After a surge in COVID-19 cases, the country’s health system is at breaking point
The country’s most important health facility – Port Moresby General Hospital – is having to care for a huge increase in patient numbers, while dealing with a shortage of staff, many of whom are unable to work due to their own COVID-19 infection.
For children who are already sick, particularly those suffering life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) – which is endemic in PNG – COVID-19 is a serious threat to their lives. Children and families are struggling to access everyday health services, which are now in jeopardy.
Children’s lives are at risk during an alarming and escalating COVID-19 outbreak
You may remember Jenny (pictured below) from our appeal last year to raise funds to combat infectious disease. She is a cheeky girl who loves to play and wants to be a pilot when she is older so she can visit her aunt in Australia. Jenny, who is now seven years old, was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and was undergoing a six-month treatment plan at a clinic supported by ChildFund in Papua New Guinea’s capital city, Port Moresby.
The situation in PNG is alarming. The shortage of healthcare staff, beds and huge numbers of COVID-19 patients means there are now not enough resources and time to treat children and families with other life-threatening illnesses and diseases such as TB, a major killer in PNG.
For Jenny and her family, the past year has been incredibly tough. Because of lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Jenny almost did not complete her TB treatment.
Thanks to the generosity of ChildFund supporters, Jenny had the help of a healthcare worker – a TB Treatment Supporter trained by ChildFund – who was able to deliver her medication to her while the health clinic she was attending was closed.
The headlines are shocking, but they reflect an urgency that is felt among our experts.
ChildFund’s Olive Oa reports on the COVID-19 crisis from Papua New Guinea.
As the manager of ChildFund Papua New Guinea’s health program, I am seeing firsthand the impact the recent COVID-19 outbreak in PNG is having on vulnerable children and their families. The country’s health system is under immense pressure because health workers are now having to redirect their time and resources to treating a rapid increase in coronavirus patients.
This means children suffering infectious, life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) – which has already killed more than 1,000 people in PNG since the beginning of 2021 – are facing significant obstacles to accessing the treatment and care they need. Mothers risk not giving birth safely in a hospital because of the shortage of beds, doctors and nurses.
Donate now and your gift to vulnerable children will be tax deductible
With your support, we can help ensure children with TB continue and finish their treatment plans, pregnant mothers have access to birthing kits to help them deliver safely at home, and that health outreach programs continue to run in remote communities. Your support will also be critical in helping to transport health workers and supplies into rural communities, as well as install clean water facilities in remote health centres to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
Children like Jenny living in poverty are among those at greatest risk during the COVID-19 crisis and they need your help more than ever before.
Will you please consider a tax-deductible gift now, to help protect children during the COVID-19 crisis?
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