Allan Bird : PNG Needs a Comprehensive Strategy to Beat COVID19

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By Allan Bird : PNG needs a comprehensive strategy to beat COVID19


It is critical that any government be given all the information it needs to combat any issue. COVID19 is no exception. We all know that our response to many issues has been generally poor in the past. My fear is that we are taking this same approach to COVID19. And I fear that Government is not getting the benefit of good data and by inference good analysis.


COVID19 is no longer a health pandemic. It is an economic and social tsunami that is already causing great devastation across the world. So we need a strategic approach to it. One which sadly our team of experts have failed to provide.


What is our country strategy? What are our strategic strengths as a country? How can we employ these strengths in a national strategy to combat COVID19 and it’s devastating effects?


Should we simply employ what rich western countries are doing? Is that a smart strategy? For the first time in history we have a situation where our traditional friends are under siege. Worried about how COVID19 is affecting their countries. So PNG needs to figure out a way to combat this situation and come out on top.


This is a fight for survival. If we spend all our bullets (resources) and deploy our troops in the wrong corridor, we will lose the war.


So let’s break it down, who is this enemy called COVID19? What do we know about him? What are the strengths of the enemy? What are his weaknesses? First of all, he travels in an infected human host. He can’t survive too long outside a human host. Also a strong healthy human, can withstand COVID19. Mostly old, sick people are high risk. We have no medicine to kill him. This is what we know.


What are our strategic strengths? We are fairly isolated from each other. Most places are difficult for people to get to and hence the virus to get to. We have a young population which is generally healthy and have access to healthy organic food.


What is our weakness? An infected person can bring the virus in from another country through an open border. We also don’t have much money and we have a weak economy and a weak health system.


So what’s the strategy? Where should we deploy our assets to fight the virus? Where are we most vulnerable? And where can we mount our best defense? To me it’s at the entry point. Our borders. This is what I have been saying since COVID19 became an issue several months ago. That’s the front line. Who do we need on the Frontline? Soldiers and police men. Well resourced. That should be 60% of our effort.


Our fall back strategy should be to fight it if it gets past the border into the population. What does that entail? We should be prepared to use our natural topography to cordon off parts of the country that might be infected. Save the other parts from infection. If we contain the virus in certain areas and don’t let it out, then we can survive as a nation.


Thirdly we should protect the golden goose that produces the golden eggs. Our fragile economy. If we expend all our resources on fighting the virus and the economy dies, we die too.


So I want to see a comprehensive strategy. Burning roadside markets and beating up our women who sell food is not a smart strategy. Why is this our focus? Those strong young men we are sending to burn markets should be on the border. Deploy them where they can be most useful.


All of the above strategies we have deployed in East Sepik. I don’t know everything, I have some really smart people in my province who are doing these things. So I am offering our strategy.


And to my usual critics, Government strategy is determined by ministers, not by Governors. Governors have zero input on government strategy formulation. Hence this post. Thank you lo yupla harim.