The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) with support from the World Health Organization, is currently reviewing the National Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).

Director of Reproductive and Child Health Division, Dr Divi Ogaoga said coverage of childhood Immunization has improved greatly throughout Solomon Islands in recent years, with most children now receiving routine vaccinations.

Dr Ogaoga said it is important to ensure the system works to capacity so that all children have access to vaccinations in the future.

He expressed appreciation and thanks to WHO, UNICEF and all stakeholders involved in the review.

A statement from MHMS said immunization stakeholders and international experts from WHO, AusAID, JICA, GAVI and UNICEF are currently in the country to evaluate the programme - from procurement to service delivery.

"Initially the team will be in Honiara to develop locally relevant tools to be used in the review. Before heading out to the provinces, Provincial Health Directors, Cold Chain Coordinators and Cold Chain Officers are to be briefed on the review process."

The statement added that combination of international EPI specialists and local knowledge will ensure a thorough review to highlight aspects that are working well and those where improvement opportunities exist.

Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative said EPI in Solomon Islands is vital.

"It is an important part of the work the Ministry of Health and Medical Services does," Dr Fleischl said.

She said the EPI Vaccine Program has led to significant reductions in the occurrence of life threatening illnesses worldwide and remains one of the best defenses against illness in the Solomon Islands.

"WHO is proud to support this essential programme. This review is a step forward in ensuring the best immunization programme possible is available to all Solomon Islanders."

The following details the review team's schedule:

Nov 7-8:Training for National and Provincial Staff

Nov 9-14: Honiara and Guadalcanal Field Review

Nov 10-14: Western Province Field Review

Nov 10-14: Malaita Field Review

Nov 9-14: Makira / Ulawa Field Review

Nov 11-14:Isabel Field Review

Nov 16: Presentation of findings to Government officials

Source: Press Release, Government Communications Unit