Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu have signed a historic health deal in Honiara yesterday.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Minister of Health and Medical Services of Solomon Islands Hon. Charles Sigoto and his Vanuatu counterpart Hon. Steven Don Ken signifies an important milestone between the two Melanesian countries.

The MOU will now allow the Vanuatu Government to start recruiting Solomon Islands nurses to work in Vanuatu.

A total of 25 nurses will travel to Vanuatu this year as soon the Vanuatu Government finalizes their recruitment and travel arrangements.

Under the arrangement, the nurses will work on contract for three years before the next 25 nurses will be recruited as replacements on three year contract basis.

Minister Don Ken said Vanuatu is facing a critical nursing shortage which impacts negatively on health services to its more than 200,000 population for the last 10 years.

"I am proud and very pleased to sign this agreement on behalf of the Government and People of Vanuatu which is very important for our country's health sector".

"I would also like to thank the Government and People of Solomon Islands for listening to our cry for help in terms of nursing assistance," Minister Don Ken said.

He added that the response by Solomon Islands to provide nurses to work in Vanuatu shows the heart that Solomon Islanders have for their brothers and sisters in Vanuatu.

Solomon Islands Health Minister Charles Sigoto who is a nurse by profession for 30 years said the signing of the partnership is the beginning of greater things to come for the benefit of the two countries.

"I am very much grateful as a nurse myself that the enhanced cooperation between our two countries has began with the nursing profession," Minister Sigoto said.

He added that there are plans at government to government level in place for further collaboration between the two countries in terms of health services.

The signing ceremony was made in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka and senior officials from both Governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Minister Don Ken and his delegation will leave Honiara today.