Following Endorsement by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and its partners including disability groups, successfully launched the Solomon Islands National Disability Development Policy 2022 -2031 and the Rehabilitation Strategic Plan 2022 -2031, in Honiara, on Friday 2nd of December 2022.

The 10-year policy document and strategic plan will play an important role in guiding decisions and implementation of activities to ensure Solomon Islanders living with various forms of disabilities can live a normal life, access services, and be able to participate meaningfully in the development of the country.

Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Health Permanent Secretary in her welcome remarks highlighted that work to finalize the documents occurred at the time when the Ministry was combating COVID-19 and despite this being a challenge, it did not deter the Ministry from losing sight of the need to progress this important undertaking to completion and endorsement from Cabinet.

“As such while I welcome you all to this event, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our team from the Disability Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Department, including the Disabled People’s Association of Solomon Islands, People with Disability Solomon Islands, and partners who have worked tirelessly to reach this milestone.

“Today we now have a policy document and strategic plan that will guide us forward for the next 10 years. With this, we are to collectively ensure, promote and advocate that our people with disabilities can access social services, health and education, employment, and job opportunities so they can equally participate in, and together advocate an end to harmful practices, discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion of people with disabilities,” said Mrs. McNeil.

Ms. Monica Fong, Officer in Charge, WHO Solomon Islands Office in conveying congratulatory message highlighted that the milestone reached, reflects the ministry of health and its partners, commitment to Universal Health Coverage and ensuring that the continuum of care of all people, including people with disability are addressed.

She explained that the alignment of the policy and strategic plan to the National Health Strategic Plan 2022 -2031 under strategic objective three (3), would further strengthen the delivery of these two key areas of health in a systematic and sustainable manner.

She however pointed out the need to continue reinforcing delivery of quality health services by a responsive and strengthened human resources for rehabilitation services and more investments in appropriate infrastructure to ensure accessibility if those needing the service are to be served well.

Ms Fong said that WHO is pleased to have provided the technical guidance for the development of the Strategic Plan and assured of WHO continued support to achieve objectives of the strategic plan, complementary policies and activities.

Delivering the keynote address, Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana explained that the National Disability Inclusiveness Development Policy 2022 -2031 embraces the vision that Solomon Islands is a society that upholds people with Disability as equal and equal participants in the development of the country.

He said the mission is to ensure inclusive participation of persons with disabilities as equal partners in the promotion and protection of their human rights and development aspiration of the country.

“This policy adopts the principles of the convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and also adopted the twin-track approach of disability mainstreaming and disability specific in its implementation”, said Dr Togamana.

He said on this note, the Ministry of Health is committed and in progress with preparation of required documents for the endorsement through the Ministry’s Senior Executive Management and Cabinet, the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

With the Rehabilitation Strategic Plan 2022 -2031, Dr Togamana highlighted that this is the first strategic plan for Solomon Islands and also the pacific in terms of rehabilitation. “Rehabilitation improves the health and functioning of individuals, increases their participation and inclusion in everyday life and community activities, and saves money. Rehabilitation is for all the population who need it from those with short-term impairments to persons with long-term disabilities”, explained Dr Togamana.

“The Rehabilitation Strategic Plan aspires the vision of - A healthy future for all, integrating rehabilitation in the health system – and a mission - To provide accessible, efficient, quality rehabilitation for all Solomon Islanders that is affordable, wherever they may live”, Outlined Dr Togamana.

He said these important documents now in hand, the Solomon Islands Government, Development Partners and other key stakeholders, are now ready to work in partnership in the translation and implementation of this important document frameworks.

Dr Togamana then went on to launch the documents. “As the Health Minister, I thereby, officially launch the Solomon Islands National Disability Inclusive Development Policy 2022-2031 and the Solomon Islands Rehabilitation Strategic Plan 2022-2031. Congratulations!”

Source: MHMS Media