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PNG Prime Minister, James Marape says COVID 19 will continue to remain Papua New Guinea’s biggest challenge.

He said this when addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City on Friday (Saturday morning PNG time).

PM Marape during his address at UN General Assembly. Photo: Screenshot

“I also take this time to extend our condolences to the families in your countries who have lost someone due to COVID-19, and our get-well wishes to those who are sick,” PM Marape told world leaders.

“I also pay tribute to the global frontline workers and service personnel who have toiled over and beyond the call of duty to care for those who are sick and vulnerable,” he said in a media release.

PM Marape thanked international partners for their assistance to PNG during this difficult time.

“Our numbers are low in terms of both confirmed cases and fatalities,” he said.

“But most concerning, the rates of vaccinations are also low.

“Our Government took the necessary upfront ownership through the enactment of an appropriate legislation, the National Pandemic Act 2020.

“This, together with very close working partnership with our valued development partners, including our Pacific family of nations through the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 Program, has given us much success.

“We cannot speak highly enough of such partnerships, including those through the COVAX Facility, and with the UN system, Australia, New Zealand, US, Japan, China, European Union, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, which enabled us to have immediate access to essential medical equipment and supplies including the AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines.”

PM Marape said PNG continues to welcome and encourage further strengthening of cooperative global efforts to allow access to the COVID-19 vaccines in countries where they are most needed.

He mentioned misinformation, including on social media in PNG, which has curbed efforts to increase vaccination.

“We advocate for global efforts in curbing misinformation that has resulted in low rates of vaccinations in our country,” PM Marape said.

“It will truly support our efforts in building national advocacy and awareness on the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, a programme ably supported by our development partners, including most notably the churches and the UN Country Office.”

PM Marape said the PNG Government had to do all this, while at the same time, keeping a close eye on the general health sector.

“A National Health Plan is ready to be launched, except for the settlement of the financing plan,” he told the UNGA.

“It will encompass facilities development, capacity building, pharmaceutical procurement, development of primary, secondary and tertiary health care, and provincial capacities, and the requisite capacity building and education.”


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