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50 days on, WHO continues to serve communities affected by PNG quake

Fifty days after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Papua New Guinea (PNG), limited delivery of essential health services has resumed in earthquake-affected provinces. However, thousands remain vulnerable to health threats as they continue to live in crowded temporary settlements with inadequate access to clean water and medical services.

More than 500 000 were affected by the earthquake that struck on 26 February. At least 25 000 people have been displaced, while many communities continue to face compromised water and food supplies, significantly increasing threats of disease outbreaks.

Of the 77 health facilities that were damaged by the earthquake, only 10 remain closed. However, services remain limited at most of the re-opened health facilities.

High risk of outbreaks in earthquake-hit Papua New Guinea: UNICEF, WHO

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.

Health Emergency Operations Center in Mendi operational: delivering quick delivery of health services to quake affected communities


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.

Health Facilities Devastated by PNG Quake


21 March 2018, Port Moresby – A third of all health facilities have closed in Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces as a result of the Papua New Guinea earthquake.

On 26 February, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea, triggering landslides, affecting water sources and wiping out houses, health facilities, people and crops. More than 190 aftershocks have been recorded, according to the United States Geological Survey, including one as recently as 20 March.

Emergency health team deployed to earthquake-affected provinces of PNG


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.

WHO Representative in
Papua New Guinea

Contact Details

The World Health Organization
4th Floor, AOPI Centre, Waigani Drive
PO Box 5896, Boroko, Port Moresby
National Capital District
Tel: (675) 325 7827 Fax: (675) 325 0568
E-mail: wppngwr@who.int


Highlights from WHO Papua New Guinea

  • Breaking barriers in access to health information
    28 AUGUST 2017 - Health workers in Arawa, Bougainville, now have increased ability to access latest health information, virtually free of charge.
    This follows a five-day course on HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month.
    Since 2016, WHO has brought together over 150 health professionals from 10 provinces of Papua New Guinea under a series of HINARI workshops, with Arawa being the latest.
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