Support to the National Response to contain the impact of COVID-19

Situational Analysis

Papua New Guinea declared eight COVID-19 cases as of 22 April, including two cases of local transmission. Considering global trajectories, it is highly that additional cases will be confirmed. A window exists to expedite preparations for a likely outbreak of COVID-19 across the country taking existing weaknesses in governance and basic service delivery. The health system is chronically under-funded and poorly administered leaving WHO to assess Papua New Guinea’s health system as among the world’s ten worst performing systems. Unfortunately, similar challenges and structural impediments are found in non-health related front-line services, such as policing, welfare, community protections, and gender, family and sexual violence services.

The Government has declared a state of emergency and imposed precautionary measures, which include domestic travel restrictions, grounding of international flights, and curfews. It has so far allocated 0.05% of GDP from the 2020 national budget to prepare and respond to any outbreak and is considering additional fiscal measures. Government revenue is expected to suffer as a result of falling commodity prices, in particular, for LNG and oil. In response, the Government is seeking PGK 860 million (1 percent of GDP) from traditional bilateral development partners and international financial institutions to support its health response and stimulate the economy.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have wide socio-economic impacts. Current challenges faced by Government in managing public finances and debt will be exacerbated by COVID-19 and will represent an additional external shock to the economy, impacting jobs, incomes, and livelihoods for the county’s most vulnerable. At present, PNG has approximately 20% of the internationally recommended trained health care workers necessary to provide an adequate level of health care services under normal circumstances. This lack of capacity is further reflected across Government making the delivery front-line basic services an ongoing challenge for the country and in particular, the 80% of the population living in rural and remote areas already experiencing low levels of development.

Areas of intervention


Socio-economic impact and needs assessment

UNDP in partnership with the RCO has mobilized other UN agencies to collaborate with development partners and IFIs to conduct a rapid appraisal to gauge the initial socio-economic impact of the effects of measures taken by the government in response to the COVID-19. This will be followed by a full-scale impact assessment that will assist both government and development partners in formulating policy and programme responses addressing the immediate and longer-term socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Inclusive and Integrated Crisis Management and Response  

UNDP plays a central role in supporting the UN and national response. It provides humanitarian specialist coordination support to the UNCT as well as the national response mechanism. This includes budget tracking and assurance services.

Early evidence indicates that COVID-19 response measures such as lockdowns increase incidences of GBV. This exacerbates the situation in PNG as one of the countries with the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in the region. UNDP provides support to key service providers such as the Police Family/Sexual Violence Unit to ensure that the sector is able to maintain its core functions and essential services for victims and survivors of GBV. This also includes the provision of safe houses and other protection measures as well as awareness raising and engagement with national parliamentarians on GBV.


Health System and Procurement Support

UNDP is procuring 30 respirators for hospitals, including provincial hospitals. The Government has also requested UNDP to procure ambulances, upgrade existing ambulances, tents for triage and PPE for front-line health workers. UNDP will continue offer support to the Government with the sourcing of essential COVID-19 health supplies for front-line health and non-heath workers.


Areas of Intervention

Resources Required 

Resources Available

Resource Gap

Socio-economic needs assessment and response




Inclusive and integrated crisis management and response





Health System Support








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