More than 40,000 children in West Sepik will be immunised under a program supported by Burnet Institute aimed at scaling up immunisation coverage in the province as a measure to protect infants and children under five years old from infections and prevent the spread of serious diseases.
West Sepik is one of 12 provinces to benefit from the Accelerating Immunisation and Health Systems Strengthening (AIHSS) program.
AIHSS is an initiative of the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and is funded by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and Gavi– the Vaccine Alliance, with technical assistance from the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund.
Provincial Health Authority CEO Alphonse Yalim said West Sepik is PNG’s second lowest performing province when it comes to immunisations, and addressing logistical barriers will be vital to the program’s success.
“This program presents a unique opportunity to save lives by increasing routine immunisation coverage to at least 80 per cent by 2022,” Mr Yalim said.
“Rates were as low as 33 per cent for measles and 41 per cent for pentavalent in 2018. We have a vision to see West Sepik Province come in the top five provinces in terms of indicators for maternal and child health.”
The program is expected to reach more than 400,000 children across the country.
Burnet Institute is supporting implementation, working with the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority on governance, planning, financial management, operations and service delivery.
“One of the best aspects about this project is the enthusiasm and initiative from the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority,” Burnet project manager Brooke Vandenberg said.
“This truly is a locally-owned project with strong leadership from the provincial health authority.
Find out more about our work in Papua New Guinea, and how you can support our life-saving research.