In a brief courtesy meeting on Wednesday this week, the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Dr. Culwick Togamana along with health Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil welcomed Dr. Sobel Howard, who is on assignment for two months as the Acting World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the Solomon Islands.
Dr. Sobel is an Internist, Paediatrician and Preventive Medicine Physician by profession and currently the Team Coordinator responsible for Maternal and Child Health, Quality and Safety, Safe and Affordable Surgery, Infection prevention and control at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific. He has worked in several WHO Headquarters: Geneva, Guyana, Ghana, Philippines and Cambodia.
He has more than 50 internationally peer-reviewed publications, 20 WHO publications and has been part of Editorial Review Boards. Dr. Sobel gained his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Engineering, Medical Doctorate at Medical College of Virginia, Master’s of Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he was Chief Resident and instructor, and Ph.D. at Ghent University, Belgium. He is a US citizen.
In welcoming Dr. Sobel, the Health Minister said that the Ministry is very pleased with his appointment and arrival in the country to commence work following the departure of the previous WHO Representative, Dr. Sevil Huseynova in the past two months.
Dr. Togamana also thanked WHO for their extensive efforts and support within the country for both COVID and disease priorities. The acting Representative noted he would convey this to the office, as they are the ones who stepped up efforts throughout the very challenging times
The Minister, Permanent Secretary and acting WHO representative had exciting discussions on tackling issues ranging from the National Health Strategic Plan, vector-borne and TB elimination, cultivating champions of vaccination, harnessing the power of digital health given new opportunities afforded from fibre optic connections all over the Pacific and building local capacity.
Both the Health Minister and Permanent Secretary wished Dr. Sobel the very best.
Dr. Sobel in thanking the Health Minister and Permanent Secretary for receiving him, said that he is delighted with the appointment and reassured of WHO’s commitment to supporting the Ministry towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and its endeavour to fulfil its mandate to the people of Solomon Islands.