Bougainville COVID-19 News : Bougainville champions Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated!

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has launched a powerful new awareness campaign featuring Bougainville leaders advocating for the region’s COVID vaccine program.

The campaign ‘Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! (Bougainville Sanap Strong – Kisim COVID Banis Sut) ’ features vibrant first term politicians Minister for Police Hon. Emmanuel Kaetavara and Women’s Member for North Bougainville Hon. Amanda Masono, school principal Finlyn Mamats, and a range of health workers.

Minister Kaetavara said, “As political leaders, we must lead by example. By getting vaccinated, I can help protect myself, my family and my community.”

Hon. Masono said there were a lot of rumours circulating in Bougainville about COVID and vaccinations, and she advised people to seek out information from the right sources.

“I’d like to encourage people, especially women, to visit their nearest health centre and get the correct information to make an informed choice.”

She said getting vaccinated had no negative impact on her health, and instead had made her feel strong and protected.

Launching the campaign of COVID champion messages adapted for video, social media, radio, SMSs and posters, Secretary for Health Clement Totavun said that vaccination is critical to ensure a healthy population in Bougainville.

“Getting vaccinated is something positive you can do for Bougainville. A healthy population equals a strong Bougainville. Despite all our best efforts, COVID-19 is here and we must stand up to this virus as we have stood up to many challenges before,” Secretary Totavun said.

The multi-channel awareness campaign went live on Sunday with SMS blasts reaching over 65,000 phones. The campaign is backed by Australia and New Zealand who have supported a range of COVID preparation and emergency response initiatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville including isolation facilities, protective and testing equipment, emergency medical teams, technical advice and awareness.

Australian Government representative Fiona Crockford acknowledged the power of local voices in the face of a global pandemic.

“Rumours and misinformation spread fear around the world and prevent people from making the right informed decisions to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” Ms Crockford said.

“This campaign shares trusted Bougainville voices from all walks of life in engaging ways with a simple message: stand up, get informed and get vaccinated.”

The Acting High Commissioner at the New Zealand High Commission, Dr Nathan Ross, said it was important for Bougainvilleans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m fully vaccinated and had a booster because the science clearly shows that this is the best way to reduce the chances of severe illness if I catch COVID. The new Omicron variant of COVID is extremely infectious, and it moves very fast within households and communities – so I urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Health Secretary Clement Totavun challenged the people of Bougainville to hear the message from COVID champions and get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible and continue to practice the Nuipela Pasin of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.

The Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! videos can be viewed on Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Facebook page and heard on radio New Dawn and NBC Bougainville. The campaign is being complemented by vaccine advocacy support to the Bougainville Christian Churches Association, through the Australian-funded PNG Church Partnership Program.