Catholic Health Australia members have announced they will match Caritas Australia’s funding to bring the total amount raised to fight COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea to more than $500,000.
CHA and its members have announced an immediate contribution of $270,000 to fight COVID-19 in PNG, primarily through the urgent distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) in remote areas.
At the start of the pandemic in March last year, Caritas Australia purchased $250,000 worth of PPE and partnered with Caritas PNG to distribute to 19 dioceses, which reached 235 health facilities and an estimated 1,462 health workers.
The money raised by CHA will provide essential support to Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS), the health commission under the Catholic Bishops Conference Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. CCHS will prioritise the distribution of PPE and any other support to the provinces with the highest rates of COVID-19.
Catholic Health Australia chair John Watkins said the PPE would be supplied and distributed in PNG as soon as possible to protect health workers serving their communities.
To date St John of God Health Care, St Vincent’s Health Australia, Villa Maria Catholic Homes, the Australian Ursulines, Little Company of Mary Health Care (Calvary), the Mater Group, as well as CHA itself have all contributed.
In the next phase of the partnership, Caritas Australia will also work with CCHS to support community awareness on prevention and vaccination messaging, training of local staff, support for COVID-19 rapid testing and necessary medical equipment.
Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia, said: “I am glad to see that CHA has been able to harness the Church network here in Australia to help us support our closest neighbours in PNG. This means that we can work together in shared faith to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable.”