UNICEF welcomes a US$347,000 funding from the Government of Japan to boost on-going COVID-19 preparedness efforts in the Solomon Islands.

“The Ministry of Health is grateful for the funding support by the people and government of Japan, through UNICEF. Your support will greatly assist both our national and provincial frontline health workers when discharging their duties to protect themselves, their colleagues and the country against COVID-19.

"The support will also help to cultivate and enhance personal hygiene, especially hand washing, to prevent any transmission of COVID-19 should there be a case,” said Pauline McNeil, the Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The contribution from Japan is being used to support UNICEF’s efforts in strengthening community engagement as well as provide critical medical and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies. It will also help strengthen health care, education including early childhood, child protection services and research on the impact of this global crisis on women and children in the country.

“Japan is aware of how hard the Government of Solomon Islands is working to protect the country from COVID-19. We are glad to have this opportunity to support the government through UNICEF as well as through partnership with other development partners,” said H.E. MORIMOTO Yasuhiro, Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands.

While COVID-19 has not reached the Solomon Islands shores yet, it is evolving rapidly around the world and is becoming a risk to all countries especially for small Pacific Island states that have limited resources.

With this funding support, UNICEF has been working closely with the Government of Solomon Islands to improve essential services including the set up of handwashing stations in communities and health centres. Water containers and soap have also been provided so locals have access to safe drinking water and can regularly wash hands, which is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

More than 1,000 schools in the country were also assisted with guidance by UNICEF on COVID-19 prevention and control in schools.

The funding from Japan will also support the Government of Solomon Islands with personal protective equipment and other medical supplies including oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters and tents. These will ensure that front-line healthcare workers are equipped with the resources they need to deliver the best services to the communities they serve.

The medical supplies, arriving in staggered shipments, will help build the capacity of the local health system to manage any COVID-19 cases that may arise, as well as limit transmission.

“We thank the Government of Japan for their partnership with UNICEF to ensure that children in the Solomon Islands and their families remain safe,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to the Pacific. This support will further strengthen the country’s capacity to be prepared for the global pandemic, if it reaches its shores,” he added.

This funding is a component of the overall Japan grant of US$2 million to UNICEF to support 14 countries in the Pacific region in their preparedness and response plans for COVID-19.