Papua New Guinea’s COVID Response Boosted with the Donation of Ambulances funded through the UN-India Partnership Fund

October 12, 2021

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener (r) and Acting Indian High Commissioner Mr. R.S. Virdi (2nd r) handover ambulances to Minister of Health, Hon. Jelta Wong, and (l) CEO of St John Ambulance PNG, Mr. Matt Cannon.

The procurement of new ambulances will support efforts to address the unprecedented pressure the latest COVID-19 surge has placed on Papua New Guinea’s health system.

As the number of infected people soars, emergency response services have been stretched to their limits. Ambulance services have struggled as calls for assistance grow. This situation is made worse by alarmingly weak COVID-19 vaccination rates, of which Papua New Guinea now has among the lowest in the world.    

On presenting the initial four ambulances to the Government of Papua New Guinea, UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Wagener said, “the health system is overwhelmed by this latest COVID-19 surge. Community transmission is widespread. Misinformation on COVID’s severity is rife. These ambulances will help to address some of the pressure but are only one part of what needs to be a multifaceted response. We must lift vaccination rates and raise community awareness as an absolute priority.”

UNDP has procured 10 new ambulances with the generous assistance of the Government of India through the United Nations-India Partnership Fund. The first four ambulances are being handed over today with two ambulances assigned to St. John immediately to boost capacities to cope with the current surge. The Minister for Health, the Hon. Jelta Wong, acting Indian High Commissioner Mr. R.S. Virdi, and the Chief Executive Officer of St John Ambulance, Mr. Matt Cannon were present during the handover.

“This valuable support from UNDP and partners will provide urgent strengthening to emergency response in Port Moresby, and Provinces, at this critical time of national need,” said Minister for Health, the Hon. Jelta Wong.

This follows the refurbishment of five ambulances under this partnership to improve operability of current emergency health services. An additional six new ambulances will arrive in Papua New Guinea in the coming weeks and will be handed over in a formal ceremony.

The United Nations has played a critical and wide-ranging role in supporting Papua New Guinea’s national COVID-19 response efforts. UNDP has featured strongly through efforts to support the Government with critical humanitarian coordination through the country’s National Coordination Centre, procurement of 30 ventilators, and in delivering Papua New Guinea’s first national socio-economic impact assessment on the impacts of the COVID pandemic.

These ambulances will be set to work across the country to bolster rural and remote health services. They will be utilized by various essential health providers, including St John Ambulance PNG.