In an excitement-filled ceremony, the Helena Goldie Hospital in the Western Province officially launched and opened its new prefabricated Biomedical Laboratory worth SBD3.1 million dollars funded and delivered by Australia.
The laboratory is a turnkey project and is fully equipped with associated reagents, furniture and fittings, including a GeneXpert machine to perform COVID-19 testing, Haematology, a biochemistry analyser, an autoclave machine, microscopes, centrifuge, blood bank freezers etc.
The laboratory has the capacity to perform various types of blood tests and analyses to assist doctors with diagnosis and treatment and will reduce the need for blood samples to be shipped to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara for analysis before results are made available.
Dr Lazarus Neko, Deputy Secretary Corporate of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in his remarks at the event thanked the Government and the people of Australia for providing the lab to Helena Goldie Hospital.
“Thank you so much, Australia. Having this laboratory here will reduce lead time for our medical team here to carryout diagnosis and treatment since blood tests results can now be made available much more quickly. In turn this will greatly contribute towards saving of lives and preservation of health for the thousands of people within the catchment area of the hospital”,
“Moreover, the instalment of the laboratory at Helena Goldie Hospital will reduce associated costs with shipping the blood samples to NRH in Honiara as well as relieve pressure on the NRH Laboratory that is conducting tests for NRH patients and patients from health facilities across the country”, explained Dr Neko.
He acknowledged the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) that was deployed to Solomon Islands from February to March last year during COVID-19 community transmission. The AUSMAT mission recommended a laboratory at the Helena Goldie Hospital to enhance the capacity and capability to respond effectively to infectious disease outbreaks in the future.
He thanked the Director of Health for Western Province and team including Helena Goldie staff for working closely with the partner as well as the Laura Bay builders, the contractor engaged to install the prefabricated laboratory.
Dr. Neko also thanked the Uniting Church of Solomon Islands (UCSI) for the Establishment of Helena Goldie Hospital and reached out to the leaders for continued support to the hospital.
The Deputy Secretary concluded by urging the hospital staff to take good care of every single piece of equipment within the lab, and the lab infrastructure itself. “If we take good care of it, it will also take care of us in return”.
His Excellency Rod Hilton, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, in his remarks (impressively delivered in Pidjin), said he was deeply honoured to be part of the launching ceremony, stating that Solomon Islands and Australia have a very good partnership in the health sector.
“This laboratory is an output of this strong partnership and friendship between our two countries”.
He also said that Australia is hopeful the laboratory will positively impact the health and lives of the many people in Munda and Western Province.
He concluded with the assurance of Australia’s continued support to the health sector, which will be aligned to the new National Health Strategic Plan 2022-31.
Australia is also funding prefabricated laboratories at Taro Hospital in Choiseul province and at Lata Hospital in Temotu Province