A day at the 6 Mile clinic
Health workers immunize 200 babies weekly
Immunization is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives for a healthy future. Parents, caregivers, and health workers at 6 Mile Clinic continue to work together to ensure that children in their community are protected.
The 6 Mile Clinic in Port Moresby conducts Well Baby Clinic daily from Monday to Friday for Routine Immunization (RI), Nutrition, and other child health services. The Clinic immunizes more than 200 babies weekly.
Mid-wife nurse Sr Garia Baker is the officer in-charge of the Well Baby Clinic, and she is assisted by Nurse Judy who attends to the babies. About 40 to 50 percent of babies under 3 months have been immunized at the 6 Mile Clinic since the beginning of 2022.
A Well Baby Clinic Day as usual for Sr Garia and Sr Judy as parents await their turn to be seen by the nurses
‘We attend to more than 200 babies in a week. On a normal day, we attend to 43 babies while during our busy days we see almost 50 babies that come for immunization. We serve most of the communities surrounding the clinic and we try as much as possible to attend to everyone, said Sr Garia.
Inside the clinic, mothers listen to an information sharing session on key messages about the importance of routine immunisation as they wait patiently with their babies to be seen by the nurses.
‘I have been coming here since my baby was born because I know that routine immunization will protect my baby, said Karina Nu, a mother who brought her baby to the clinic for immunization.
Sr. Garia and Sr. Judy both talk to the mothers and stress the importance of routine immunization and the diseases they protect against. The nurses also address questions or concerns raised by the parents about immunization.
After talking to the mothers, Sr Judy is now ready to see the babies and goes through the clinic books to determine if a baby is due for immunization or a follow up review if the child is on a nutrition program. Sr Judy will also check their weight and do other checks.
‘We encourage mothers, and fathers as well to bring their babies to the clinic to be immunized as per their RI schedule and not to miss any opportunity,’ said Sr Judy.
A baby’s name on a clinic book is called, and Sr Garia tells the child’s father what to do and let him know to wait a few minutes as they attend to the babies inside.
Papua New Guinea has had persistently low routine immunisation coverage at around 60 per cent for over a decade. Only 50 per cent of all children have completed all three doses of DPT vaccination by their first birthday.
Routine immunization programs face many challenges in Papua New Guinea. Dispersed rural populations, a mostly rugged geography across the country and limited resources for transport to visit health clinics are among many factors that contribute to the low coverage. As a result, the country faces disease outbreaks such as measles and polio that re-appeared in 2018 after it had been eradicated in the year 2000.
UNICEF is a key partner, working closely with, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other key partners to support the Government’s immunization program by supplying vaccines for routine immunization, maintaining and improving cold chain for proper storage of vaccines; deploying international experts at provincial health authorities to support micro-planning, training, and implementation monitoring; and supporting advocacy and social mobilization activities at all levels by working with communities, religious leaders, political leaders and other partners.