New UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Claudes Kamenga, takes up appointment in Papua New Guinea
PORT MORESBY, 12 February 2021 – The new incoming Country Representative for UNICEF Papua New Guinea, Dr. Claudes Kamenga, last week presented his Letter of Introduction to the Government, to officially take up his post in-country.
Dr. Kamenga, when presenting his Letter of Introduction to the Acting Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Elias Wohengu, expressed his appreciation for the excellent cooperation between the Government of PNG and UNICEF and reassured the Government of UNICEF’s commitment to continue to support the country’s efforts to protect and advance the rights and well-being of its children, especially the most vulnerable.
“I am honored to be in PNG to lead UNICEF contribution to Government efforts together with the UN family and our many other partners in ensuring children in this country grow up, learn and live in a protective and safe environment so that they can reach their full potential to proactively contribute to society and the development of this country, ” Dr. Kamenga said.
He congratulated the Government for several recent achievements for children, especially the successful return of children back to school at the end of January. He added that while the Government had relevant policies in place, much remained to be done to effectively implement these polices and called on the Government to do more for the children of this country.
Mr. Wohengu, while acknowledging the partnership and relationship between the Government and UNICEF, welcomed UNICEF’s commitment and support in ensuring children’s voices were heard and needs were met.
“I reaffirm the commitment of the PNG Government to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) that we signed in 1993. PNG is committed to undertaking all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures necessary to realize the rights of every child,” Mr. Wohengu stated.
“Papua New Guinea has very good legislations and policy frameworks in place for child rights. While challenges remain in the implementation of these policies, increased Government funding in the Health and Education sectors has seen significant improvement compared to the last five years,” Mr. Wohengu said.
Dr. Kamenga previously served as the UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Benin where he was responsible for the overall development, formulation, conception and management of the UNICEF Country Programme before arriving in PNG on 8 January 2021 to take up his post here.
He brings with him vast experience of working in various capacities that include serving as the Regional Chief, HIV AIDS for UNICEF in West and Central Africa responsible 24 countries and holding a couple of very senior positions with Family Health International over several years supporting research utilization of HIV prevention, care and treatment.
His previous jobs also include a long term consultancy with the World Bank’s Population and Human Resources Operation Division, a medical researcher with Project SIDA, a collaborative multinational research effort of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the Belgian Institute of Tropical Medicine, and the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr. Kamenga is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the International L.I.F.E. Prize for scientific achievement in AIDS prevention for his work on HIV counseling and testing of discordant couples in Kinshasa, Zaire, and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for scientific excellence from the US CDC. He is the author and co-author of several articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and many presentations at international conferences.
Dr. Kamenga is an American citizen, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He holds a medical degree from the University of Kinshasa School of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health (epidemiology) from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is married and has three daughters and one son.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Papua New Guinea, visit https://www.unicef.org/png/