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Australian Red Cross welcomes emergency COVID-19 package for PNG

17 March 2021

Australian Red Cross welcomes the Australian Government’s moves to send critical medical equipment, medical staff and 8,000 vaccine doses from Australia’s domestic vaccines stocks to Papua New Guinea  

A further move to request the re-allocation of one million vaccines, contracted to Australia, to our nearest neighbour is also an important sign of leadership and solidarity in their time of great need.  

This immediate assistance is vital for Papua New Guinea to get on top of the current crisis, while continued long-term support is also needed to strengthen the country’s healthcare capacity to deal with COVID-19 and other diseases.  

This package can be the start of an intensive ramping up in work with our partners in Papua New Guinea to improve health infrastructure to create a sustainable health system across the country.  

Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society Secretary-General Uvenama Rova said the country is currently in a precarious situation.  

“The response to COVID-19 underlines the need for long-term investments to continue to expand local skills and infrastructure for managing health crises,” Mr Rova said.  

Australian Red Cross Director of International Programs Michael Annear said: “The assistance announced by the Australian government for the national response during this time of immense pressure is welcomed.  

“Getting vaccines and personal protective equipment to critical frontline health workers is vital to getting on top of the current outbreak. Yet so is ramping up surveillance measures, testing capacity and public health messaging.  

“Meeting the short-term medical needs of Papua New Guinea to respond to COVID-19 is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a need for continued partnership and discussions to work out long-term solutions to building a more resilient health care system involving government and civil society actors who hold deep relationships with communities. 

“Papua New Guinea is our nearest neighbour and they need us to be good partners at this time and well into the future.”  

Papua New Guinea Red Cross has been responding to COVID-19 over the last year by activating volunteers across the country to provide support and accurate information – particularly to the most vulnerable members of the community - about the virus and practices that help keep it at bay. This work is supported by Australian Red Cross with help from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

“The focus of our support is on ensuring Papua New Guinea Red Cross continues to play an important role assisting communities as part of the wider national response to COVID-19,” Mr Annear said. 

For media queries or interview requests, contact media@redcross.org.au or 1800 733 443