The Solomon Islands Government has begun implementing a sector wide approach for the health sector to markedly improve health service delivery and achieve the Millenium Development Goals for health.

The Hon. Johnson Koli, Minister of Health and Australian High Commissioner Peter Hooton joined representatives from the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA, at the National Conference where the Health Sector Support Program was launched and a "Partnership Arrangement" signed between the Solomon Islands Government and donors in the health sector.

"The Program brings together donors to the health sector in a more harmonized, integrated effort to support the National Health Strategic Plan," Minister Koli said.

"The objectives are to raise service p[erformance, improve the long term inancial sustainability of public services, and improve the management of the health system over the period of 2008-2012 and beyond."

Development partner support will be provided through the budget support or through activities that align with Solomon Islands Government priorities in the health sector.

The hope is that by aligning behind a common set of objectives, in this case the National Health Strategic Plan, Government and donors work towards achieving the same goals.

"This is the first time Australia has provided budget support to Solomon Islands," Mr.Hooton said.

"Australia is pleased that the funding will be used to support the health agenda of the Solomon Islands Government through the National Health Strategic Plan."

"This shared approach to the health sector has potential to help the Solomon Islands towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals for health such as reducing maternal and child mortality and combating malaria and other diseases," said Mr. Hooton.

Australia is one of the lead donors to the Solomon Islands health sector, providing nearly SBD$400 million (AUD$60 million) over five years to the Health Sector Support Program. The funding will be used to support improved service delivery and long-term institutional reform in the Solomon Islands health sector.

Other donors, such as the World Bank, will initially provide inputs that complement the program's priorities.