Vital to Get PNG Vaccine Rollout Right First Time, Or Risk Losing COVID War
The 8000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine supplied to Papua New Guinea will be a ‘test case’ and must be done right first time, or risk undermining confidence in the vaccine, World Vision has warned.
World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said he welcomed the announcement that Australia would send 8000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to PNG, but warned that any failures in the initial rollout would only ramp up vaccine hesitancy – something which is already a serious hurdle in the country.
“You only get to make a first impression once, so it’s absolutely critical that the communication and engagement with the community is right first time,” said Mr Wordsworth. “Trust is paramount. From experience, World Vision knows that building trust is critical to the success of any immunisation program , and in the Pacific that means using trusted figures in the community. People like faith leaders.”
World Vision is the largest NGO operating in Papua New Guinea and has an extensive footprint across the country, including in the most remote and hard-to-reach areas. World Vision is working in 14 provinces across the country, including in challenging regions such as Western Province and Bougainville.
“We have been working in the area for more than 45 years and have programs with a strong focus on health security and immunisation,” Mr Wordsworth said.
World Vision is the principal recipient of the Global Fund Managing Integrated TB/HIV Response in Papua New Guinea, a large-scale consortium program, delivering TB and HIV activities across the country.
“We know how complex and difficult the environment is in PNG from our experience in delivering TB and HIV treatment and care services. We have been pivoting our programs in PNG and across the Pacific since the start of the pandemic and are now ramping up our communication and community engagement to support the initial vaccine rollout.
“It is critical this initial rollout is done right, and for our part, we are going to throw everything at it. We know from our on-ground staff that vaccine hesitancy is a significant issue and could present the major barrier to combatting the spread of the virus.
“If the communication and community engagement aren’t done right, or if there are significant issues with the rollout of this 8000 doses, it could seriously undermine our efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy making further rollout even more difficult,” said Mr Wordsworth. “We can’t win the war with this initial rollout. But we could certainly lose it if we don’t get it right.”
For more information contact: Mike Bruce 0403 920 189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· World Vision has been partnering with communities in the region for over 45 years and have national offices in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste
· World Vision Australia is the largest development and Aid NGO in the country and the Australian Government’s largest NGO partner through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program
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