In such a time like this when the country is facing a global health pandemic, the lives of each and every one of us very much depend on how we work together and critical to this, is the sharing and dissemination of correct, accurate and contextual information.

As such, in light of an article published on Island Sun, issue 3564, on 10th of May that claimed unfair distribution of Covid-19 allowances by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), the Ministry is thus obliged to respond and make clarifications on this matter.

The article which stated that doctors, nurses and trainers have missed out on allowances paid by the government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is misleading and inaccurate.

MHMS senior executive management treats its human resources with respect, recognize the work that they do in the areas they are deployed to and strives to ensure that efforts are rewarded accordingly.

It must be noted that payments of Covid-19 related allowances are administered by MHMS in consultation with the Ministry of Public Service (MPS) and in accordance to the instructions as per the MPS circular memorandum No:02/2020 dated 24th March 2020 to all government ministries and departments.

Upon receiving the MPS circular, MHMS developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to guide its actions in recognizing health workers and support staff of MHMS through the payment of allowances.

The SOP has the following objectives:

  1. To be compliant with the Ministry of Public Service (MPS) Circular Memorandum 02/2020 dated 24 March 2020 to implement a Highly Contagious Disease Risk (HCDR) Allowance.
  2. To recognise and reward appropriately the commitment of frontline public servants working in designated high risk locations.
  3. To recognise and also reward support staff who are also part of the COVID-19 operations in alignment to MPS circular Memorandum 01/5/2 dated 17th April 2014, Payment of Allowance for Disaster related work (DRW).
  4. To include all other health workers indirectly involved in COVID-19 operations in the allowances.
  5. To administer the appropriate and timely payment of the allowances to public servants working in the high risk locations, support services in other locations and in all other health facilities including MHMS administration sites throughout the country.

Solomon Islands Government through MHMS acknowledged the work that all health workers and support staff have put into preparedness and response to COVID-19; therefore, MHMS considers rewarding all health workers and support staff in the COVID-19 operations for payment of allowances in line with the SOP.

Since Solomon Islands has not registered any single case of COVID-19 as yet, allowances paid were on the basis of “before official declaration on confirmation of COVID-19 in Solomon Islands” according to the MPS circular on HCDR Allowance, as such, frontline officers manning designated high risk locations may claim a daily allowance of $300 per day.

For purposes of determining eligibility of claims, frontline officers are specified as public servants who discharge essential services for which the nature of their duties directly meet with COVID-19 suspects at designated high risk locations.

The allowance is claimable when an officer is at work in the authorized locations and for which the proof is that the officer signs off on the work attendance sheet.

For health workers and support officers who do not have direct contact with suspects, they are being recognised and paid the DRW of $150 per work day.

The process for claiming both the HCDR and the DRW allowance will be through the completion of the appropriate claim forms and approved documentation of the work provided and/or conducted to receive the allowance.

The categories of allowances shall apply to health workers and support officers who serve under the MHMS at the Ministry headquarters, National Referral Hospital and the provinces including Honiara City Council.

Therefore, all who have received their allowances are those who have fulfilled the requirements as per the SOP and submission of relevant documentation for COVID 19 Allowances.

All other concerns and issues raised pertaining to Covid-19 allowances during a recent dialogue with staff representatives has been acknowledged and taken very seriously and the Ministry is in the process of addressing them as swiftly as possible.