Burnet welcomes Australia's urgent COVID-19 support package for PNG

Burnet Institute

17 March, 2021

Logistics of reaching remote villages in PNG will be assisted by Australia.

Burnet Institute welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement of urgent COVID-19 support measures for Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Australia will immediately send hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment supplies to PNG, as well as medical equipment and medical personnel early next week.

Australia has also allocated 8,000 doses of its own domestic vaccine supplies to PNG and ordered one million doses of Australian-contracted AstraZeneca vaccines to be distributed to PNG by the end of the year.

Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Health Security, Dr Suman Majumdar said: “It’s been a tremendous and really positive announcement today by the Australian Government, at the request of PNG.”

“It’s exactly what’s needed, particularly the delivery of vaccines. It’s something that we can spare from our supply plus the request to obtain more vaccines,“ Dr Majumdar said.

“The PPE masks are also really important because healthcare workers are most at risk.”

Dr Majumdar said PNG will need ongoing support to deliver the vaccines, but right now the speed of Australia’s response is paramount.

“That’s the essential ingredient, we’ve got no time to lose, or to delay.”

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said Australia’s response to PNG represents ‘true leadership’.

“Stepping up to urgently support our neighbours in need, ensuring the stability of our region and protecting the health of Australians – this is us at our best,” Professor Crabb said.

He said the rapidly declining situation in PNG has reiterated the relentlessness of the virus.

“A major risk if we don’t bring the spread under control is that the virus mutates, just as we have seen in the UK, Brazil and South Africa,” Professor Crabb said.

“We’ve been lucky so far that the current vaccines have shown efficacy against these new emerging variants, but we can’t say that this will continue to be the case.

“We must do whatever it takes to fight this virus in Australia, in our region, and across the world, because we know this pandemic isn’t over until it’s over for everyone.”


Australia is also providing the following new targeted support:

  • Supply of PPE and other equipment for Port Moresby General Hospital and other facilities, as well as 200,000 face masks;
  • Working with the WHO on expanding warehouse capacity to increase storage for PPE and streamline its distribution;
  • Supply of hospital tent facilities outside Port Moresby General Hospital for safe triaging and referral and transfer of patients;
  • Supporting St John’s PNG and National Capital District Provincial Health Authority to establish Taurama Aquatic Centre as an isolation facility for mild to moderate cases with up to 120 bed capacity.
  • Funding support for the re-opening of the Rita Flynn Testing and Isolation Facility to relieve pressure on the Port Moresby General Hospital;
  • Funding St John’s Ambulance’s COVID-19 operations in Port Moresby, including patient transport, COVID-19 testing and PPE distribution to clinics;
  • Supporting the COVID-19 National Control Centre with information management, risk communications, quarantine management and health financing; and
  • Scaling up surveillance, testing and clinical care capacity in Port Moresby and provinces with known outbreaks, and testing of samples in Australia.

The Australian Government will also provide essential PPE supplies to the PNG Government including:

  • Surgical Masks – 1 million
  • P2/N95 respirator masks – 200,000
  • Gowns – 100,000
  • Goggles – 100,000
  • Gloves – 100,000 pairs
  • Hand sanitiser – 100,000 bottles
  • Face Shields - 20,000 Non-invasive ventilators (plus appropriate quantity of consumables) - 200

This new support is in addition to the AUD$144.7 million support that Australia is providing to Papua New Guinea over 2020-21 to 2022-23 through our regional vaccine access initiative. This funding will support Papua New Guinea prepare for a COVID-19 vaccination campaign and assist with the procurement and delivery of doses.

It also builds on our $80 million contribution to the multilateral COVAX Facility’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for developing countries, which will support vaccine access for around 20 percent of populations at greatest risk in 92 developing countries. The COVAX facility has indicated that it will deliver 588,000 vaccines for Papua New Guinea by June.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has already provided assistance of over $60 million dollars in assistance to help Papua New Guinea respond to the crisis.


Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)




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