Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana in his keynote address to launch the National Health Strategic Plan 2022 to 2031 outlined how the plan was developed.
“ We started just one year ago gathering as much information as we could to have some understanding of where we are in terms of what has been the successes and failures during the previous plan. We found that we have a lot to celebrate. People are living longer, fewer deaths in infants and children under five years and cases of tuberculosis continue to reduce. We have made notable improvements in our health services”,
“Under the leadership of my Permanent Secretary and her Executive together with the Ministry’s Policy and Planning Division, we resolved to do better, and to focus on building a health system that is ‘fit for the future’ and provides equitable access to health services for all – hence our vision of a healthy future for all Solomon Islanders”
Health Minister Dr Togamana
“However we have also found that we were not doing well in other areas. For instance six out of every ten deaths are now due to non- communicable diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and cancers. Malaria that we had successfully brought down to very low levels is now on the rebound and is again at levels not seen since 2008”, stated Dr. Togamana.
With health facilities, Dr Togamana revealed that over 8 percent of health facilities closed due to being in poor condition, a lack of water or toilet facilities, no staff housing or staff shortages. This was particularly noticeable in the provinces where patients were forced to travel long distances to access health services.
“Finally, COVID-19 was a wake-up call for all of us because it showed that the Solomon Islands was at high risk of pandemic diseases across our informal borders due to poor surveillance”, said Dr Togamana.
He said that analysis was sobering and led health to understand that while we had done well in some areas, there was much room for improvement in others. “Under the leadership of my Permanent Secretary and her Executive together with the Ministry’s Policy and Planning Division, we resolved to do better, and to focus on building a health system that is ‘fit for the future’ and provides equitable access to health services for all – hence our vision of a healthy future for all Solomon Islanders”, said Dr Togamana.
He explained that armed with this analysis, we then looked to the future and asked ourselves – what will our country be like in 2030 and how should we prepare? “ We found that our population will grow by an additional 191,000 or 25 percent over the next decade. We also saw that many of our health facilities were built in the seventies and are now reaching the end of their useful life. We noted the realities of climate change, and how rising sea levels and the increased frequency of severe storms will impact on our coastal communities”,
“Over the ensuing three months, we consulted widely with department heads, program managers and front-line health workers within the Ministry both in Honiara and the provinces. We talked to those outside of the Ministry – our development and technical partners, civil society and faith-based organizations. We asked them whether they agreed with our understanding of ‘where we are right now’ and what our country will be like in 2030. Importantly, we asked them for their views on ‘how did we get to where we are now’. They were very candid in telling us what the Ministry was doing right, and critically, what we needed to do differently if we were to make a real difference”, highlighted the Minister.
He said that with these insights, the Ministry’s Executive Team and its Policy and Planning team, supported by the international team of consultants started to draft and map out our new strategic plan – one that would be a game-changer in terms of changing HOW the Ministry went about its business, while building on our successes over the past few years.
“We identified three areas of strategic focus for our plan, which, if we could get them right, would lead to a transformation within the Ministry for the benefit of all Solomon Islanders. Led by the Policy Planning Division, we tested the draft plan through a series of presentations to Department Heads, Program Managers, staff, and external partners. Their spoken feedback during the sessions, and subsequent written feedback gave us confidence that we were focusing on the right things that would make the most meaningful change within the Ministry and in the delivery of health services over the next decade. The draft plan has been through several refinements, and today I am pleased to present to you all the final version of our National Health Strategic Plan 2022-2031 at this launch event”, said Dr Togamana.