NZ sends medical team to PNG as covid-19 overwhelms health system

Makeshift covid hospital in POM
Patients are treated at a makeshift covid-19 hospital in Port Moresby. Image: RNZ Pacific

RNZ Pacific

A New Zealand medical and logistics support team with essential supplies to assist Papua New Guinea with its covid-19 crisis has departed New Zealand.

Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio said the PNG government had formally requested humanitarian and medical support from partner governments to respond to the health crisis, with rising case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths due to the current delta surge.

As of November 9, PNG has recorded 415 covid-19 deaths with local media reporting the health system is unable to cope with the medical crisis.

Aupito said New Zealand was deeply saddened by the increasing loss of lives in Papua New Guinea due to the pandemic.

“New Zealand remains committed to supporting its Pacific neighbours to respond to the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic,” the minister said.

“By working closely with our partners in the region, we can make a tangible contribution to covid-19 resilience,” Aupito said.

A logistics component comprising two NZ Defence Force logisticians and a NZ Defence Force Environmental Health Officer will support the PNG National Control Centre in the capital, Port Moresby.

A clinical component comprising two doctors and three nurses from private company Respond Global, two Fire and Emergency NZ logisticians and a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be based in Bougainville to support the Bougainville Department of Health.

“Most of the team departed Saturday morning on a New Zealand Defence Force aircraft and will be based in Papua New Guinea for approximately one month,” Aupito William Sio said.

There are already medical teams on the ground from Australia and Britain assisting Papua New Guinea with the medical crisis.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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