By Joe Komba, Papua New Guinea
The Covid-19 vaccination is intended to provide acquired immunity for the vast majority, hence, being vaccinated is the most important point during this pandemic. With the skills and knowledge gained during my Australia Awards PNG Short Course in Family and Child Health – Planning and Administration delivered by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2019, this has immensely helped me achieve the project in Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea.
I was engaged as a social mobiliser to lead a team to deliver Covid-19 vaccination awareness and vaccination rollout in remote villages where almost 90% of the population are uneducated about Covid-19. In these remote areas, information is not cascaded well, thus, misleading information makes citizens unwilling to get vaccinated.
We have strategically delivered Covid–19 vaccination awareness to several community groups and local government leaders. With the support and funds from the Australian Government in collaboration with Oil Search Foundation, a non-charitable organization working with the provincial health authorities, I closely engaged with the National Department of Health to organize the Covid-19 vaccinators training for 28 health care workers from 15 Covid–19 vaccination sites. This training has equipped the healthcare workers with knowledge in Covid-19 vaccines and administration.
It was indeed a memorable experience as we were given three months to execute the plan with a population of 500,000+. The plan worked successfully from October until December to cover three districts; Mendi Munihiu, Imbongu and Lalibu Pangia with over 20 health facilities.
Additionally, I have organized along with our team doctor, sanitization sessions for over 50 healthcare workers which enabled them to safely execute the Covid-19 vaccination.
As a result, a significant increase of more than 26% in the community have now voluntarily had themselves vaccinated and is still ongoing up to this date.