On Tuesday this week, health excitingly and with great appreciation received seven (7) brand new Toyota land cruiser ambulances with all necessary medical equipment including oxygen concentrators, provided by the Government of Japan.
The delivery of the ambulances is part of a series of outcomes generated from continuous awareness and advocacy of health needs and gaps to bilateral and development partners by health officials.
With the need for ambulances, the Government of Japan stepped in to offer its support. All seven (7) of the ambulances were brought into the country from Japan, straight from a manufacturing company in Japan.
In a brief ceremony to officially hand over the vehicles, Mrs Pauline McNeil, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health expressed heartfelt thanks to the government of Japan.
‘The need for ambulance in some of our provinces has been long overdue. The fact on the ground is that many deaths are simply due to late presentation to our health facilities and one of the main reasons is lack of transport’,
‘Well I have good news for most of our Provinces that the Ministry will be deploying these ambulances to you, two for Malaita specifically for Kiluufi and Maluu, and one each for Western, Isabel, Temotu, Guadalcanal and Makira Provinces.
"The deployment of these added resources is aligned to the Ministry’s aspirations and plans in shifting resources to the Provinces where the demand for health services is greatest," outlined Mrs. McNeil.
She added that with the current COVID-19 response, the ambulances will also be critically important to quickly shuttle those very sick with the virus to health facilities for clinical management.
"We have been calling for people to come as soon as possible to the hospitals and clinics if they begin to develop severe symptoms of COVID-19. Today we are also reinforcing this call with the provision of these ambulances as part of the life saving measures," highlighted Mrs. McNeil.
The Permanent Secretary thanked the Government of Japan for providing assistance with the ambulances and overall support with funds to provide many of the medical equipment that health is currently using to respond to COVID-19 but also other health issues.
Mr Norimasa Yoshida, Charge d’Affairs, Japan Embassy, in handing over the vehicles said that Japan is pleased to be providing the ambulances which is part of its grant aid project, the second program under its Economic and Social Development Programme for Solomon Islands.
"The grant aid program worth around SBD$23 million was formalized on the 17th of June 2020 to support health in procuring necessary equipment to enhance its capability to respond to COVID-19 and basically contribute to the overall development of the health sector. Thus, the ambulances were procured under this program."
Mr Yoshida also added that the support is provided as cooperation that contributes to strengthening the foundation for robust and sustainable development which is the pillar of support announced by the Japanese government at the 8th Pacific Islands Summit held in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture on May 18th and 19th, 2011.
"We look forward to continue working closely with the Government of Solomon Islands especially the Ministry of Health at these trying times and provide assistance where it is needed," assured Mr. Yoshida.
Joint Press Release MHMS & Japan Embassy