The first provincial Public Health Emergency Bill (PHEB) consultations held in Gizo, Western Province came to a successful close today (29 September 2020) afternoon.
The consultation kicked off with presentations by the PHEB taskforce team members on the overview and background of COVID-19, International Health Regulations, SIG and MHMS Preparedness and Response to COVID-19 and the draft bill. This followed group work to review the bill and presentations of suggestions and recommendations for the taskforce to consider when compiling and finalizing the bill.
Western Province was selected for the first provincial PHEB consultations due to its intense engagements in COVID-19 operations at the western border, handling of border crossers and close proximity to common border with Papua New Guinea including Bougainville that have recorded positive COVID-19 cases.
The selection did served its purpose well. The PHEB taskforce team had managed to gather numerous constructive and important views and opinions concerning the bill from around 30 participants from various relevant government ministries, which included provincial ministry of health, agriculture and livestock, finance and treasury and Non-government organizations, Red Cross Gizo branch, Save the Children, etc. Many of whom are currently in the active COVID-19 preparedness and response roster.
Provincial Secretary Jeffery Wickham, thanked the PHEB taskforce for holding its first provincial consultation with the Western Province. “The active participation and important contributions made today is a demonstration of how important the bill is for us as we have since the declaration of the State of Public Emergency been heavily engaged in COVID-19 preparedness and response”.
“As such having our inputs is critical to ensure that once passed in parliament it will further strengthen and enhance effectiveness and efficiency of our provinces COVID-19 operations to keep protecting our people from COVID-19 and overall the country”, explained Mr. Wickham.
Closing the consultation, PHEB taskforce team lead, Attorney General Mr. John Muria reiterated the contributions made throughout the day and expressed his appreciation on the fact that they are based on the challenges and difficulties experienced and gaps identified during engagements in COVID-19 operations. “This will greatly assist us in shaping the bill to ensure that it achieves its intended purpose of a more effective, efficient and well-coordinated preparedness and response to the global pandemic”.
Mr. Muria assured participants that all their contributions will be seriously considered in the refining and finalization process of the bill.
Media Release from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Media Unit.