Amid Solomon Islands’ continuous efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates, the private sector aligns with the Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).

A three-day awareness program was held to disseminate information to help communities in and around Honiara gain better understanding and make informed decision about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), as the peak body representing private sector in the country, in coordination with member businesses, the Community Policing Team of the RSIPF and the MHMS brought together close to three hundred community representatives from all three constituencies in Honiara to share information, education, and communication materials to help protect people with the right knowledge and encourage them to get their vaccination against COVID-19.

The COVDI-19 vaccine awareness was facilitated by Dr Jones Ghabu, Consultant physician and Head of Internal medicine at National Referral Hospital (NRH) together with the National Health Promotion officers.

This is a step up to the ‘Bisnis For Vaccine’ campaign spearheaded by SICCI where those registered go into a fortnightly draw to win prizes sponsored by members of the business community.

The awareness really helped representatives at the community level to be well-informed about the COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the country and this was also an opportunity to clear some of the misconception and doubt that our people have, says Sir Bruce Saunders who took lead in organising this week’s awareness the program.

As a next step and with support from the Community Policing Division of the RSIPF this awareness campaign will continue down to members of the ninety (90) communities that have community policing set ups.

Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil highlighted that threat of COVID-19 to our health and lives remains a grave concern given the current national vaccination coverage of only 14.3 percent of total vaccine eligible population having fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 43.5 percent with one dose.

“Coupled with the fact that we are progressing towards reopening of our borders, it is paramount that we speed up vaccination coverage by all means. The government nor the Ministry of Health will be able to do this alone, it requires whole of society to put our hands together and get the vaccination coverage up to 90 percent and above.

“On this note the Ministry is tremendously pleased towards the support rendered by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce for organizing the COVID-19 vaccine awareness for Honiara community policing committee members through the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, with support from UNICEF and private sector firms such as Y-Sato. Truly a great partnership,” stated Mrs. McNeil.

She also saluted all community policing committee members whom have attended the awareness for their commitment made to get all vaccine eligible persons in their communities vaccinated to ensure that they are safe from severe sickness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in the event of a community transmission.

SICCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Natalina Hong said: “Our communities and our businesses face the reality of being shut down if we have even a single case in our communities, as such, leadership and support for Solomon Islanders getting their jab is necessary and should be a priority.

“The private sector and businesses stand ready to support Government and the MHMS vaccinate the targeted population to keep our country safe from this deadly virus,” she said.

SICCI acknowledges that vaccination is one of the main ways to protect our communities and businesses to reduce the possibility of community spread if and when our borders are reopened.

SICCI in particular recognizes the support and tireless commitment by Sir Bruce Saunders of Blum AJ & G BLUMs Ltd and Chris Anthony of Marine Y Sato for reaching out to the communities and Government stakeholders to ensure that accurate information and awareness for vaccination against COVID-19 is available.

SICCI also acknowledge the Community Policing Division of the RSIPF and businesses who have shown tremendous support towards this initiative.

Source: SICCI & MHMS Media