The World Bank has approved a US$5 million emergency project for Solomon Islands to support the country’s COVID-19 preparedness and response while also strengthening critical health systems. The nation-wide project will provide immediate assistance that is designed to complement activities supported by other development partners.

The project will support prevention, preparedness, and emergency response activities for COVID-19 in Solomon Islands, including providing personal protective equipment and supplies to front line health workers; enhancing case detection and contact tracing; strengthening quarantine facilities in areas bordering Papua New Guinea and isolation units in the provinces; mobilizing health care workers (including laboratory technicians); and supporting operating expenses for the response.

“This timely assistance, along with support from other partners, will enable Solomon Islands, and particularly the provincial health systems, to be better prepared to prevent and respond to any further coronavirus cases along with any future pandemics,” said Pauline McNeil, Solomon Islands Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services.

“This project will directly support and complement the Government’s Consolidated National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 that was issued in March and updated in August 2020.”

The project will also support health systems strengthening activities to ensure other critical health services are not interrupted due to COVID-19. This includes the upgrading of provincial hospitals (Tulagi and Helena Goldi ); improving waste management at health care facilities; improvements to the national medical storage facility along with staff training; support for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to establish a national emergency coordination center; and providing training in infection control and disease surveillance for health care workers.

“We are pleased to be standing with Solomon Islands in this challenging time. A significant COVID-19 outbreak in the country would put serious strain on the health system,” said Annette Leith, World Bank Resident Representative, Solomon Islands & Vanuatu.

“This project will address critical gaps in the health system identified by the government. I am also pleased that through this project, intensive care services in some provincial areas will get critical upgrades to ensure that care can be effectively delivered to those outside Honiara.”

The World Bank is responding to emergency needs and economic impacts arising from the coronavirus pandemic across the Pacific, with COVID-19 operations approved for Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Source: World Bank