The Papua New Guinea National Department of Health, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) reported recently that the more than 3 million children were vaccinated during a nationwide polio vaccination campaign that began in earlier this year.

Papua New Guinea Image/CDC
Papua New Guinea

“As of 31 October 2018, we have immunized 3,112,035 children under 15 years old against polio, and this had been made possible through the hard work and dedication of our polio workers on-the-ground”, said Pascoe Kase, Secretary of the National Department of Health (NDOH). “I commend the leadership of the provincial health agencies and emergency operations coordinators for effectively launching and managing a very challenging response operations”.

More than 9,000 health workers and volunteers working in the 22 provinces of the country mafe this possible.

Papua New Guinea confirmed a polio outbreak on 22 June 2018 when a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1), first detected in a 6-year old boy from Morobe Province, was also isolated in two healthy children from the same community, indicating that the virus was circulating.

On 26 June, a National Emergency was declared by the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Since that first case, there have been 21 polio cases in the country affecting nine provinces: Eastern Highlands (6), Morobe (3), Enga (3), Madang (3), Jiwaka (2), National Capital District (1), East Sepik (1), Southern Highlands (1) and Gulf (1).

The outbreak response plan of Papua New Guinea includes three main components: (1) supplementary immunization activities (four sub-national and national vaccination rounds); (2) enhanced surveillance; and (3) communication.  The total estimated budget for the plan is US$ 18 million, against which the Government has committed approximately US$ 2.2 million (PNG Kina 6.7 million), releasing PNG Kina 2 million for the first and second rounds of the vaccination campaigns.

The next round of the nationwide polio campaign begins today and will go through 18 November 2018.