A World Bank (WB) mission is currently in Honiara, providing technical support towards the implementation of the current USD$13 million health project, funded by WB through the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFt) and managed and implemented by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) through its Project Management Unit (PMU).

The project which commenced last year, aimed to bolster COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts, as well as strengthen health systems for future outbreaks to improve the quality and accessibility of health care services in the country.

At the commencement of the meeting this week, Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Health Permanent Secretary, welcomed the team stating that the Ministry is delighted to have the relevant expertise in country to support and acknowledged the impact the funds had on COVID-19 response.

“Indeed, the World Bank funding support had made significant contributions towards health’s response to COVID-19 community transmission experienced earlier in the year.

“It enabled the Ministry to respond effectively to the COVID-19 community transmission and more importantly that our workers were able to continue discharging their duties safely, with critical equipment such as COVID testing machines remain functional and so forth.

“Today with the improved COVID-19 situation, focus on the health system strengthening component of the project is underway which mostly includes the hardware or health infrastructure. As such the arrival of your team is timely and surely we will greatly benefit from your support to better our work in implementing the project, moving forward”, highlighted Mrs. McNeil.

WB Senior Health Economist and project mission team leader, Mr. Netsanet Walelign Workie who also delivered brief remarks said that it was a pleasure for the team to be in the country and to finally meet face-to-face with the MHMS, after two years of virtual meetings.

He mentioned that the mission will this week review the progress of the project and together with the MHMS, decide on key next steps.

Mr. Workie thanked the Ministry for their commitment and dedication, and the strong leadership and governance of the PS-Health and her team in steering project progress amidst the immense challenges faced during the last 12 months. Their efforts are commendable, and we are excited about the future of the project, he mentioned.

Mr. Workie also acknowledged the partnership between the Ministries of Finance and the Ministry of Health and with the Bank stating that such partnerships are critical and must be continuously strengthened if the project is to succeed.

Coordination of the project with other development partners and donors must also be maintained, he said. 

“This project is one of the successful performing World Bank-funded projects in the Solomon Islands and it is, therefore a pleasure indeed to be here working with you all and I hope that our partnership moves beyond the current project to providing more opportunities for Solomon Islanders to live a healthy life and participate actively in the growth and development of the country”, said Mr Workie.