The Australian and Solomon Islands Governments have announced that works are set to recommence on the SBD150m Naha Birthing and Urban Health Centre in Honiara under Australia’s flagship Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program (SIIP).
The redesigned 34-bed facility will significantly improve health outcomes for Solomon Islanders by providing high quality care in a modern, durable building.
Australia is committing over SBD150m to the project, which includes construction, staff training and ongoing maintenance in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
The Australian High Commissioner and SIIP Steering Committee co-chair, Dr Lachlan Strahan, said the new design would help the Ministry of Health to deliver better health and well-being for Solomon Islanders, in particular by assisting women to give birth safely.
“Honiara has one of the fastest growing populations in the Pacific, so there is a high demand for quality care for mothers and their newborns,” Dr Strahan said. “The facility will also provide a range of other primary health and emergency services for the wider community,” Dr Strahan said.
“A building by itself does not provide better health care – but investing wholistically in quality construction, ongoing maintenance and staff training will.”
“Australia is 100 per cent committed to helping to build long-term, responsible and sustainable infrastructure that stands the test of time and delivers better healthcare for generations to come.”
The Naha Birthing and Urban Health Centre will provide birthing, ante and post-natal care services for women. The redesigned facility includes an emergency operating theatre and will provide eye, dental, pathology, x-ray and ultrasound services, and a community-based pharmacy. A large general-purpose room will provide a flexible space for public and community health initiatives.
Secretary to the Prime Minister and SIIP co-chair Dr Jimmie Rodgers said the decision for SIIP to manage the project would ensure timely and high quality project delivery.
“This pause to redesign means the facility will be safer, stronger, and better suited to our climate and better able to meet the needs of the people using it,” Dr Rodgers said. “It’s a very positive outcome for the people of Honiara. SIIP is squarely focused on completing the facility as quickly as possible, without cutting corners on quality.”
The Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Mrs Pauline McNeil, said “Currently, the National Referral Hospital delivers 5,500 babies a year or nearly 460 babies every month, while also attending to birthing complications and referrals from the Provinces.”
“This puts pressure on bed space, staffing and management of resources.”
She said the Naha Birthing Facility, once completed, will ease some of these pressures given that the Honiara City Council Urban Services does not currently provide birthing services.
“We are pleased to be working closely with the Australian Government through DFAT to ensure the project progresses smoothly and that our stakeholders are regularly informed on progress and status of the project,” PS McNeil said.