Wednesday this week, hundreds of people from Small Malaita, East and West Are’are in the Southern Region of Malaita flocked the Afio station in Small Malaita to join a life-changing event, the official handing over and opening of their newly constructed Area Health Centre level 2 facility, worth over 12million SBD.
Excitement filled the air, smiles of joy and laughter of happiness are just simply overwhelming and a show of appreciation and gratitude to each other from everyone who attended the event was truly heartfelt.
The upgrade of Afio clinic to Area Health Centre level 2 facility is part and parcel of the government’s initiative through the ministry of health to achieve Universal Health Coverage, where everyone can easily access health services without any financial hardship and is guided by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Role Delineation Policy. The policy stipulates the type or level of facility, services and human resources to be provided across the country as per the population in a particular area,
A team from Honiara was deployed to join the event. Led by the Minister of Health Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana and Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil, the team comprised of Minister for National Planning and Aid Coordination, Hon. Rex Ramofafia and Permanent Secretary, Mrs Susan Sulu, Honourable Member of Parliament (MP) for Small Malaita Rick Houenipwela, Hon. Peter Kenilorea Jr MP for East Are’are and Hon. John Maneniaru MP for West Are’are constituencies and WHO Officer in Charge Dr Sonja Tanevska.
Other government officials included, Dr George Malefoasi, Chief Executive Officer of the National Referral Hospital, Ministry of Health Deputy Secretaries, Dr Gregory Jilini, Dr Lazarus Neko and the National Director of NursingMr. Michael Larui , Ivan Ghemu MHMS Director Planning and Policy, Doreen Ghaokabosa Acting Chief Pharmacist, Ministry of Finance Budget Director Mr Coswal Nelson and Mr Thomas Bebeu from the Prime Minister’s Office Social Sector.
Greeting the team at Afio upon their arrival was the Premier of Malaita Province Hon. Daniel Suidani and his Executive and Provincial Health Director Dr Rex Maukera and his officials.
Greeting was followed by panpipe escort and garlanding of guests with beautifully crafted colourful orchid and frangipani flowers. The event kicked off with the National Anthem followed by Malaita provincial Anthem melodiously sang by school students and then speeches by guests and officials.
Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana in his keynote address highlighted that the delivery of the AHC (L2) facility that is fully funded by the Solomon Islands Government is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to ensure health services are brought closer to the people, most of whom reside in rural areas like in the southern region of Malaita.
“Not long ago, we also opened similar facilities in Aola and another in Avuavu in Guadalcanal province. Today, we open this facility, Afio Area Health Centre and as I speak work is ongoing to build a similar Area Health Centre in Manuopo, Temotu Province and recruit process underway for a construction company to build an Area Health Centre at Wagina, Choiseul Province”,
Dr Togamana explained that the newly constructed AHC in Afio means people in parts of the Southern Region of Malaita will no longer need to travel long distances that are both costly and at times dangerous due to bad weather to Kilufi in Auki and the NRH in Honiara.
“This is so because all general clinical services and essential trauma care, reproductive maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent’s health, as well as communicable and non -communicable diseases, community health and support services amongst others will now be available at Afio”.
Dr Togamana in expressing appreciation towards the various support received by communities, churches, Malaita provincial government and the Hon. Member of Parliament for Small Malaita, cautioned that the sustainability, and longevity of the services at the hospital very much depend on partnerships and cooperation by everyone, and across all levels of governance.
“This is the only way we can ensure that it remains functional. It should not be left alone to the Ministry of Health to look after it but a shared and combined effort by all to provide assistance where needed to take good care of it”, said the health minister.
Echoing similar sentiments, Hon. Rick Hou MP for Small Malaita reminded his people to care of the facility. “Such facility does not come out from thin air but significant resources from the government including our partners. If we don’t look after it, in the same way, it would not be able to look after us as well”,
“This is an important development for our people. As an MP for small Malaita I have experienced quite huge number of my own people occasionally seeking my support to send them back home after seeking medical attention either at NRH in Honiara or Kilufi in Auki, thus this new facility will greatly benefit our people who now only need to travel a few distances only to reach the much-needed health services. Thank you indeed to the Ministry of Health of this wonderful Area Health Centre that will serve us here and onwards”, stated Hon. Hou.
Premier of Malaita Province Hon. Daniel Suidani in his remarks expressed sincere thank you to the Ministry of Health and the National government for the new Afio AHC.
“I stand on behalf of the people of Malaita province to say thank you to the Ministry of Health and the National Government for an important and life-changing development that has occurred here in the Southern Region of our province. Thank you to see it fit and selecting Afio for this wonderful project with a significant amount of financial resources”,
“A development that will preserve the health of our people to ensure that they remain healthy and thus productive to engage in economic growth and development of our province, thank you indeed”, said Premier Suidani.
He assured of MARA’s support towards any future health projects from the national government through the Ministry of Health. “My government stand ready to support such health initiatives and projects in the future for our people and our children”, assured Suidani.
Throughout the speeches, the need to equip the facility with doctors and qualified nurses was also highlighted in which the Health Minister and officials assured that relevant capacities are deployed to work the facility.
The speeches was followed by a brief tour of the new health facility by the guests and everyone else including feast with entertainment from students, youths and community members and presentation of Gifts.
The Ministry of Health would like to thank Advance Quality Company for the job well done for the construction of the Afio Area Health Centre Level 2. Thank you indeed.
MHMS will continue to assess resource needs in terms of both capacity and equipment including specialized equipment at the Afio AHC and where support is needed and MHMS will do its best to address.
A WONDERFUL DAY INDEED MARKED BY SIGNIFICANT HEALTH MILESTONE FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE SOUTHERN REGION OF MALAITA, MALIATA PROVINCE AND THE COUNTRY AT LARGE.