PORT MORESBY, 25 June 2018 – The National Department of Health of Papua New Guinea and the World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed that the strain of poliovirus first detected in a child from Morobe Province in April is now circulating in the same community. The one confirmed case is a 6-year-old boy with lower limb weakness, first detected on 28 April 2018. A vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1) had been isolated as the cause of the paralysis on 21 May 2018.
Port Moresby, 08 March 2018 — As aftershocks continue to rattle the Hela and Southern Highlands provinces of Papua New Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Department of Health (NDOH) are working together to send support to the worst-affected communities.
A devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces on 26 February, triggering landslides that are reported to have wiped out villages, contaminated drinking water and disrupted rivers.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have cautioned about the high potential of waterborne and vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in earthquake-affected areas of Papua New Guinea.
Major concerns include watery diarrhea due to water contamination from landslides, poor sanitation and personal hygiene management; and the vaccine-preventable diseases due to already low immunization coverage in the Highlands region. According to the National Department of Health (NDOH), about 70-80 per cent of children in the severely-affected provinces are not protected against preventable diseases – with routine measles coverage in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces in 2016 was just 18.2 per cent and 27.6 per cent, respectively.
A Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now operational in Mendi, Southern Highlands to coordinate the health response to the Febuary 26 earthquake that struck the area.
A joint team from the National Department of Health (NDOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) delivered the initial equipment and establised the system for a more efficient delivery of health services to the affected communities.
“With good leadership, the emergency operations center will help strenghten the public health system and ensure health services are reaching all the people,” said WHO Team Leader, Dr Anup Gurung. A key function of the EOC is to establish survellance systems for early detection of disease and quick response to disease outbreaks.