The Office of the Prime Minister’s Policy, Implementation and Evaluation Unit (PIMEU) has completed a Community Transmission Response Policy Paper that provides for overarching objectives for a way forward during this trying time.
This policy paper has a number of strategies which will spearhead the country’s general policy approach in dealing with the current COVID-19 community transmission.
It provides guidance to support implementation of high-level strategic objectives that will compliment overarching priorities and establish the basis on which National and Health Response Plans can be aligned to target cross-sectoral outcomes that will also be reflected in the 2022 Budget Strategy.
“The primary objective is to manage the community transmission of COVID19 while protecting those at risk and those who are vulnerable to community transmission whilst sustaining the economic livelihood of our citizens so Solomon Islands can emerge stronger post pandemic,” said Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday.
This primary objective will be achieved by implementing combined strategies that are aligned with policy objectives and economic priorities.
Rather than focusing on just minimizing the spread of the virus in the communities given the speed at which transmission has already occurred within Honiara, objectives need to focus on risk mitigation, controlling transmission, preventing deaths and aligning COVID19 safe measures in general, similar to what has been done with Malaria, Dengue, Diabetes and other severe Health threats that our society has had to adapt to and overcome as part of daily life.
A multi-branched approach has been developed with a number of strategies focusing on health, economy, people and operations is proposed to address the adverse outcomes of COVID19.
It emphasizes controlled movement of people, distribution of preventative measures (PPE), enhanced testing capacity, vaccination rollout, and immediate improvement of necessary health facilities, prioritizing care for the most vulnerable, support to businesses, reopening of international borders and above all, effective communication, coordination and preparedness for future waves of COVID19.
The Policy shift also take into account the substantial negatives effects of community transmission on our economy. It noted that lock downs, curfews and restriction on movement of people within Honiara and between our islands continues to have an impact on our economy.
The current COVID-19 outbreak, including recent and potential future lockdowns, poses continuing challenges to the government’s fiscal position and the general economy.
The Economic Reform Unit (ERU) estimates that the lockdown periods enforced in January cost the government between SBD$ 70 million to $80 million dollars in foregone revenues.
These measures while necessary are not sustainable, especially in a small economy like Solomon Islands. Supply chains have been disrupted and workforce affected. This has considerably slowed down the economy in a short period of time.
The government, however, is focused on mitigating and managing this crisis whilst at the same time resuscitating and growing our economy.