PNG has until 2020 to vaccinate 80 percent of children against polio

7:46 pm on 10 July 2018

Papua New Guinea's national planning minister says the government has 18 months to vaccinate 80 percent of children against polio.

 Vaccination

Photo: ©karelnoppe photography.All rights reserved.

Currently, the figure sits at 30 percent.

A recent outbreak has been blamed on a lack of vaccinations.

A public health emergency has been declared in Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands, as the country responds to its first polio outbreak in 18 years.

The strain found is a vaccine-derived form of polio, which is a mutated version of the weaker polio virus used in vaccinations.

It was able to spread because immunisation rates in the area -- and much of the country - are very poor.

The national planning minister, Richard Maru, said the government wants to have 80 percent of children vaccinated by 2020, and it plans to treble its efforts.

The United Nations and donor countries will be stumping up a good deal of the cost, and the UN's resident coordinator in PNG says it's taking every measure to control the outbreak.

This includes procuring more than 600,000 doses of oral polio vaccines, to immunise about 300,000 children in the three provinces.