With the roll out of COVID-19 launchings across the provinces, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ (MHMS) Senior Executive Management (SEM) Members are utilizing the opportunity to also touch- base with provincial health teams.

Health Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil accompanied by Director Policy and Planning (DPP) Mr Ivan Ghemu, arrived at Buala, Isabel Province, yesterday ( Sunday 22nd August) afternoon for launching of COVID-19 vaccination roll out for the province, scheduled for today 23rd August.

Upon arrival, both went straight into a lengthy meeting into the night with the Provincial Health Director Dr Tony Quity and his team to listen to their stories, challenges faced, and engage in constructive discussions to explore better ways forward both for normal health services and activities including COVID-19 operations and vaccine roll out.

Delivering his remarks at the start of the meeting, Dr Quity thanked Mrs McNeil and Mr Ghemu for accepting their request for an extraordinary meeting.

“We are humbled as it is a privilege and an honour to have you here with us in the province for the vaccine launch but also this particular meeting. This meeting offers us an opportunity to have frank discussions on how we can improve health systems and services in Isabel province but also share some success stories where we can capitalize to further enhance health care and services in Isabel province."

Following presentation of Dr Quity on the status of health system in Isabel province, the Permanent Secretary responded by expressing sincere thanks and acknowledgement to the great work the health team have been doing in the province despite limited resources.

“The challenges and issues raised are similar to those of other provinces and the Ministry is fully aware of these thus we have been focusing our efforts on the decentralization of capacities and capabilities as per the ministry’s Role Delineation Plan (RDP) and in line with the lessons learnt from the National Health Strategic Plan 2016-2020 recently reviewed.

“Therefore, while efforts are focused on COVID-19 preparedness and response, we are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation to boost provincial health systems as well. For Isabel province, an ambulance, a hospital vehicle and 60 horse- powered engine with its boat will be deployed here.

We have also formalized recruitment of 131 nurses who recently graduated, 55 volunteers from Red Cross and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood and engaged 13 doctors all of whom will assist in vaccination roll to ensure minimum disruption or disturbance to the ongoing work of provincial health workers.

“Ministry is also working on strategic mobilization of resources from various health sectors and development partners in the sector to upgrade both the health facilities including provision of specialized equipment and strengthening of public health programs and projects as part of boosting investments to preventative measures and overall improvement of health services across all sectors and departments”, explained Mrs McNeil.

However, in laying out all the support in stalled for Isabel province, the Health permanent Secretary highlighted the importance of partnerships and strengthened internal controls, communication and information sharing.

“Partnerships have proven to work effectively to our favour and this is an area I encourage you to explore. Partnerships with Non-Government Organization (NGOs), private sector, Faith Based Organizations (FBO), communities and churches as this is important for mobilization of resources and efficient delivery of health services, programs and projects, hence it is necessary to expand our players on the ground who can contribute to implementation of our health programmes.

“I would also like to encourage improvements in information sharing amongst yourselves and to us at the national level as sharing of information will greatly enable us to not only be kept in the loop of what’s happening but enable informed planning and decision making”, said Mrs McNeil.

She assured of continued support of the ministry to the Isabel Provincial Health team to ensure that plans and strategies in place are implemented in a timely manner to generate meaningful impact to the health and wellbeing of the people of Isabel province.

Source: MHMS Media Release