Politics

International doctors fear PNG health system is on the brink of collapse as COVID cases soar

A major international doctors’ group says Papua New Guinea’s health system is on the brink of collapse as COVID-19 cases soar, vaccine doses fall well short and health care staff test positive.

An Australian AUSMAT team is in PNG to provide an initial 8500 vaccine doses and assess the country’s needs.

As well, diplomatic efforts are being stepped up to get Europe to release one million vaccine doses Australia has bought and earmarked for its northern neighbour.

There are also growing concerns of pressure on Queensland’s health system as travellers return from PNG and people circulate around the Torres Strait islands.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says there is a lack of urgency being shown about the situation in PNG.

An Australian AUSMAT team is in PNG to provide an initial 8500 vaccine doses in the nation. Credit: AAP

“The health facilities are struggling to cope with the outbreak,” said Ghulam Nabi, interim head of MSF’s mission.

MSF started supporting the Rita Flynn hospital, one of the two major hospitals in Port Moresby, in October 2020 by providing staff and cartridges to analyse samples of PCR tests for COVID-19.

MSF says it only has enough testing cartridges to last for up to two weeks.

At Rita Flynn hospital, almost 40 per cent of people getting tested are testing positive for COVID-19. MSF expects this will lead to more severe cases in coming weeks.

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