Australia extends life-saving antivenom partnership with PNG

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Australia is bolstering its support for Papua New Guinea’s health system by renewing its partnership, which includes supplying antivenom doses and training healthcare workers, for an additional three years until 2027.

The PNG Snakebite Partnership, which began in 2018, has forged strong ties between the Australian Government, Papua New Guinea’s National Department of Health, Australian pharmaceutical company CSL Seqirus, and new partner St John Ambulance PNG, the government said in a media statement.

In particular, CSL Seqirus will donate up to 600 vials of Australian-made antivenom annually to Papua New Guinea.

St John Ambulance PNG will take on the role of distributing these antivenoms to more than 65 healthcare clinics across the country.

They will also train healthcare workers in snakebite patient management and collect important epidemiological data to enhance snakebite care.

“Australia is proud to support communities in our region, including through sharing our life-saving medicines, knowledge, and experience, allowing them to be treated sooner and closer to home,” stated Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong.

Since its inception, the partnership has saved over 2,000 lives and provided almost 3,000 doses of antivenom for venomous snakes and marine creatures.

Additionally, the program has delivered training to 1,500 healthcare workers, significantly improving the capacity to manage snakebite cases in Papua New Guinea.

“With one of the highest incidences of snakebite in the world, this partnership provides critical support to improving patient outcomes in PNG,” said Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy.

He added, “The Albanese Government is proud to partner with a leading Australian organization like CSL Seqirus, as well as St John Ambulance PNG, to improve access to life-saving treatments in PNG.”

This initiative complements the Australian Government’s broader and long-standing support for the health sector in Papua New Guinea.

The government maintains a strategic partnership with CSL Seqirus for the production and supply of antivenoms, pandemic influenza vaccines, seasonal flu vaccines, and Q fever vaccines.