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Papua New Guinea: Polio Outbreak Response - First 100 Days (22 June - 30 September 2018)

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The First 100 Days of the Polio Outbreak Response in Papua New Guinea: A Summary

Papua New Guinea confirmed a polio outbreak on 22 June 2018 when a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1), first detected in a 6-year old boy from Morobe Province, was also isolated in two healthy children from the same community, indicating that the virus was circulating.

On the same day, Papua New Guinea notified the World Health Organization as per required under the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005). A public announcement was made on 25 June 2018.

On 26 June, a National Emergency was declared by the Government of Papua New Guinea. The National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Response was activated the day after.

Since the confirmation of the outbreak, two rounds of the polio vaccination campaign have been implemented to protect children under 5 years old against polio.

  • The first round covered the three high-risk provinces of Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands where 303,907 children under 5 years old were vaccinated.

  • The second round covered nine provinces of Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Southern Highlands, Jiwaka, Enga, Chimbu and Hela where 690,953 were vaccinated.

A total of 1.6 million doses of vaccines have been shipped to the country for use in the first two rounds of the vaccination.

A system was put in place to rapidly detect and identify cases of polio through enhanced surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). Since the confirmation of the outbreak, Papua New Guinea has reported 14 cases of polio: five in Eastern Highlands, three in Morobe, two in Enga, two in Madang, one in the National Capital District and one in Jiwaka.

Communication and community engagement had been a key pillar of the response operations. A multi-media approach was used to create demand for polio vaccination, maximizing both traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio, posters, flyers), social media engagement (Facebook, text messaging) and interpersonal communication (community meetings, use of loud hailers). Regular media conferences were held.

There have been more than 90 international polio workers from the World Health Organization (WHO),
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that have been deployed to the country, covering the expertise: coordination, outbreak management, surveillance, immunization, risk communication, vaccine management, communication for development, health operations and logistics, finance, administration and others.

Advisory to travelers on polio vaccination have been issued, as per required under the IHR (2005). Public health measures between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have been agreed during the cross-border meeting on 13 September 2018.

The outbreak response plan of Papua New Guinea includes three main components: (1) supplementary immunization activities (four sub-national and national vaccination rounds); (2) enhanced surveillance; and (3) communication. The total estimated budget for the plan is US$ 18 million, against which the Government has committed approximately US$ 2.2 million (PNG Kina 6.7 million), releasing PNG Kina 2 million for the first and second rounds of the vaccination campaigns.

Financial support for the outbreak response includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Canada, the Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and Australia. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, in partnership with the Government, will continue to work with donors to secure the urgently required outbreak response funding.