PNG Begins New Push For Polio, Measles-Rubella Vaccinations

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Low 60% immunization rate to be boosted by new vaccines

By Maureen Gerawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 13, 2015) – Papua New Guinea’s low immunisation coverage of 60 per cent is expected to be boosted with the introduction two vaccines.

The vaccines, Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPC) and Measles-Rubella (MR) will be given along with other immunizations and were officially launched yesterday by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at Parliament House State Function room.

A large crowd of people attended the event, including school children, health workers, donor agencies supporting the health sector such as World Health Organisation and UNICEF and GAVI (Global Alliance on Vaccination and Immunisation) which is paying for these vaccines.

The introduction of IPC and MR are also part of the global efforts in the eradication of polio and elimination of measles and rubella in the country.

While PNG had eradicated polio in 2009, it could be imported from countries that still have it. On the other hand, there was a re-emergence of measles recently, affecting more than 3000 people, mostly children.

The new MR vaccine will be given to children nine months to 15 years old and IPV will be for children, three to 12 years old.

Health Secretary Pascoe applauded the presence of Mr O’Neill at this event, saying it showed once again Mr O’Neill Government’s commitment to health.

He said the health sector had in the last three years received an unprecedent support from the Government with an increased level of budget , resulting many of its key priorities being addressed, including rehabilitation of health infrastructure in various parts of the country.

Mr Kase urged health workers nationwide to improve immunization coverage by increasing access to available routine immunization.

"It is crucial that parents and care-givers know about the benefits of vaccines and where these can be accessed. They must have access to quality health information,’’ he said.

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