Photo: Oil Search Foundation field officer, Sr Wendy, assisting a health worker at the Karaulti Health Centre immunize a child.
Almost 70,000 children from the Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces, including many from isolated locations, have been immunised with support from Oil Search Foundation (OSF) last year.
Compilation of annual statistics from the Foundation’s 2017 health support programs revealed a ten percent increase in the number of immunizations compared to the previous year (2016).
Challenges, especially to reach into remote areas, are keeping national levels of immunization coverage around 50% and even lower in some districts.
Immunisation of children protects them from serious illnesses and from spreading preventable diseases to others.
OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell, said that the Foundation was proud to work with various partners to help
the National Department of Health and Provincial Health Authorities improve immunisation coverage in the country.
The Foundation was also instrumental in supporting Hela Provincial Health Authority roll out emergency measles vaccinations last year during an outbreak.
“Outbreaks of diseases like measles is a particular concern. The Foundation is committed to continuing efforts to ensure all children are protected from vaccine-preventable illnesses” said Ms Copus-Campbell.
The success of immunisation programs was also dependent on the availability of vaccines and appropriate cool storage systems to maintain the efficacy of vaccines.
With technical assistance from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Foundation worked with Oil Search Aviation’s
logistics capabilities, to move and distribute twenty-one vaccine fridges to remote sites in 2017 as part of its on-going support.
Immunisation is an essential part of the Foundation’s health programs. With the overarching theme “Immunize a Child – Protect for Life” as its key message and driving precept, OSF remains committed to supporting improved immunization coverage in PNG.
Meanwhile, the first OSF supported immunization outreach program for 2018 kicked off at the remote Kikori village of Karaulti, Gulf province, on Wednesday, 24 January 2018.
District Health Services officer, Timothy Ananias, said that without OSF logistics, cold chain (cooling systems for vaccines) and extra health workers support, immunisation and other outreach programmes in Kikori district would be impossible.