Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) was first detected in China’s Hubei Province in late December 2019, and was declared a global pandemic on 11th March 2020. COVID-19 is having devastating impacts globally. As of 22 November 2020, there are approximately 57.8million globally confirmed cases and over 1.3 million deaths have been recorded across 216 countries, territories or areas. To date, Papua New Guinea has recorded 612 cases, 588 have recovered and 7 deaths.
Upon confirmation of its first COVID-19 case in March, the Government of PNG declared a state of emergency and restrictions were put in place, initially for 14 days and then extended to late June. With an increase of 98 COVID-19 cases over 17 days, the Government of PNG is implementing a range of recommendations and measures2 , which although critical in slowing the spread of the disease, can themselves impose significant social and economic costs on PNG.
The impacts – direct and indirect – of the COVID-19 pandemic fall disproportionally on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society. PNG presents a range of contextual challenges, including difficult geography. Access to quality health services is limited, due to a lack of infrastructure, equipment, and qualified personnel3 . Services are easily stretched or overwhelmed, and provision of specialised services and intensive care is limited. In the current situation, this can pose a problem of access to care if the number of infected people increases4 . Coupled with gender inequality, which remains pervasive across the Pacific, in particular in the critical domains of leadership and decision making, access to and control of resources and gender-based violence5 , the public health response to COVID-19 can become immeasurably more complex6 .
Ensure an enabling environment to collect data from women as well as men by considering factors such selecting a time suitable for women and girls, when they are not busy conducting chores.
Ensure active outreach to collect feedback from persons with disabilities, which can involve organisations of persons with disabilities in data collection.
Ensure availability of sex, age and disability disaggregated data, including on differing rates of infection, differential economic impacts, differential care burden, and incidence of domestic violence and sexual abuse
Ensure meaningful participation of and decision-making by women, people with disabilities and marginalised groups in all COVID-19 decision-making on response and recovery at the community, national, district levels, including their networks and organisations, to ensure efforts are not further discriminating and excluding those most at risk.