Young Emmanuel receives immunisation after 2 years
Immunisation services delivered to Lamasong villagers
“When I heard about the rumours surrounding vaccines and COVID-19, I wasn’t afraid because I have faith that God would protect me and my family,” says Francisca. “I brought my son to the clinic again when he was nine months old for his routine immunization, but the health center still was closed. We heard later on that the health facility had confirmed COVID-19 cases and would only serve adults, and mothers and babies would have to wait."
“My baby was 6 months old when I took him to the clinic for his regular routine immunisation but the clinic was closed and we were sent back because it was 2020 and the spread of COVID-19 in the country was high at the time,” says Francisca Bosep, mother of four.
As a result, Fransisca’s son, Manuel, could not receive his routine immunization, making him susceptible to infections and diseases.
Francisca was not scared of the COVID-19 misinformation and myths circulating at the time and brought her child back a second time to the Kimadan Health Centre, located about an hour by road away from her village (Lamasong), in Kavieng District, New IrelandProvince.
Economic setbacks made worse by her husband losing his job during the pandemic forced Francisca to save money for other family priorities including ensuring her three older children continued to go to school. Unfortunately, paying for transport for Manuel to go to the urban clinic in Kavieng town for his vaccination was not a priority for the family at the time.
Funding support provided by UNICEF Australia (Government of Australia) allowed UNICEF PNG, working closely with WHO, the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the New Ireland Provincial Health Authority, to facilitate an outreach to Lamasong village this month, where Manuel was finally able to be vaccinated against measles, rubella and polio.
The outreach was part of a weeklong Integrated Routine Immunisation and COVID-19 vaccination drive that included trainings to upskill health workers on their knowledge and best practices around Routine Immunisation, Cold Chain Management, Data management, and community mobile outreache activities as part of efforts aimed at increasing immunisation coverage to reduce vaccine preventable diseases and deaths, and strengthening the public health system.
“I am grateful to the health team for choosing to bring this service to my village where we don’t have to walk long distances or look for money for transport to reach the town facilities with our children. My wish is that this practice can continue so we don’t always have to go all the way to the urban health centers unless there is an emergency,” says Fransisca.