Papua New Guinea is experiencing a marked escalation in reported COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. This increase in presentations is creating further burden on a fragile health system and health workers, with risks of reduced operations or closure of facilities including HIV and SRH/STI services.
Globally, there is evidence emerging that people living with HIV may be at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and experience poorer outcomes from COVID-19. Inability for PLHIV to adhere to treatment regimens, due to reduced service operations, also risk disengagement from treatment and emergence of drug resistance over the longer term. Continuity of HIV services in a COVID-19 safe manner is, therefore, imperative for PLHIV to access the vital treatment they require and to protect health workers in HIV and SRH facilities.
Under the SRH Integration Project, ASHM International – in collaboration with the lead partner the Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) – are providing targeted COVID-19 support to health facilities.
We are disseminating targeted information to around 80 CCHS health workers and health managers on general COVID-19 response, universal precautions, continuity of HIV services, stigma and discrimination and addressing vaccine hesitancy. These messages are distributed via various channels, such as WhatsApp, SMS Text, and email.
Furthermore, ASHM International is supporting CCHS in developing and implementing COVIDSafe Facility Plans within the project facilities.
A thorough needs assessment is currently being conducted, which will determine further immediate requirements of health staff and facilities.