The Australian Government was pleased to hand over a Toyota Land Cruiser Trooper to the Guadalcanal Provincial Health Authority on 10 December as part of its AUD13 million (SBD70 million) COVID-19 response package for Solomon Islands. The Land Cruiser will strengthen the province’s COVID-19 preparation and response capability.
Australia’s response package has focused on strengthening critical health care and addressing economic impacts of COVID-19. Through discussions with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), a portion of the Australian funding was earmarked for provincial health COVID-19 grants. Every province has received a cash grant, with some provinces also receiving additional resources including 4WD vehicles, boats, outboard motor engines, computers and printers. These new resources, totalling more than SBD13 million, will ensure the provinces are better equipped to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
Australian High Commission First Secretary Health, Fiona Mulhearn, handed over the Land Cruiser keys to Guadalcanal Provincial Health Director Dr Joel Denty. “The Provincial Health Authorities are at the frontline of COVID-19 community preparedness and response activities across Solomon Islands. The Australian Government is proud to support the implementation of these activities in Guadalcanal Province by funding this vehicle and providing a COVID-19 cash grant of SBD969,700,” Mulhearn said.
Dr Denty expressed his gratitude to Australia for the COVID-19 funding support, including the new Landcruiser. “Having a dedicated COVID-19 vehicle will help us to undertake community awareness and training of health workers. Our current vehicle fleet is old and unreliable, so this has impacted our ability to get out to the remote communities,” he said.
MHMS Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil highlighted that since the commencement of COVID-19 health response early this year, one of the priorities was to build capacity and strengthen capabilities of provincial health teams in the implementation of their COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. “As such, the support received over the past months including today with the handing over of the vehicle is sincerely appreciated and will go a long way into bolstering provincial health efforts against COVID-19. Thank you indeed to the government and people of Australia,” PS McNeil said.
The Land Cruiser was procured by the National Ministry of Health and Medical Services and funded by Australia at a cost of SBD295,000.