The Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Department of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services opened a three days workshop Tuesday this week with the theme “UMI TUGEDA to reduce NCD” for Faith Based Organizations and churches under the Solomon Islands Christian Associations (SICA) and Solomon Islands Full Gospel Association (SIFCA) on 1st November.
The workshop is part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between MHMS and the churches to work together to reduce NCDs in Solomon Islands.
In his opening remarks MHMS, Deputy Secretary Health Improvement (DSHI) Dr Nemia Bainivalu explained that the partnership opens up the opportunity for the Churches to work collaboratively with the Government on NCDs including a number of health issues.
He highlighted that with a population of 721,000, Solomon Islands is the second highest in the Pacific after Fiji with the number of NCDs.
“With the majority of the population residing across the stretch of scattered islands, reaching the masses with NCD related messages has proven to be a difficult task. However, with the presence of churches in almost all villages, it makes sense to partner with the churches to utilize their networks across the country to reach the people”, explained Dr Bainivalu.
The DSHI said that the workshop have successfully equipped the churches with the capacity to implement the Solomon Islands Package of Essential NCDs (SoLPEN).
Amongst its medical component, SolPEN also involves effective communication and awareness to enhance public knowledge on the preventative measures of NCDs. This is where the role of the church is much needed.
“The fight to reduce NCDs will be piloted in 2022 & 2023 in Honiara. The pilot project is purposely to establish common arrangements with the churches and between the churches and the targeted communities. The piloting is also necessary to align and simplify procedures to ensure smooth implementation and meaningful integration and sharing of information”, explained Dr Bainivalu.
He explained that these efforts will be conducted in 3 phases.
“Phase 1 includes the piloting of the project starting this year (2022). After Phase 1, the plan is to review and reflect on lessons learnt and current situation and to make plans for Phases 2 & 3, which will be the roll out to the provinces”, explained Dr Bainivalu.
Dr Bainivalu explained that messaging on preventative measures is critical as NCDs has already imposing huge costs to health and overall government finances and the economy and will continue to do so if the public does not undertake relevant measures. “Prevention is the only most effective means through which we can preserve our health, save lives and avoid this huge costs that could otherwise be well spent on other socio-economic sectors”, said Dr Bainivalu.
The actions undertaken to combat NCDs is guided by the Solomon Islands Multi-Sectoral National Non-communicable disease Strategic Plan (2019-2023) which contains a national framework of strategic actions for Solomon Islands to embark on, to turn the tide and change the landscape of the NCD in the country.
Meanwhile, SICA member and Seventh Adventist Church Pastor George Fafale said the NCD training and the MOU signed between the MHMS and SICA and SIFGA is very important. “Through the partnership we can achieve a lot and we the churches are very pleased to be recognized as important partners in the fight against NCDs and will work to do our best to provide our support. Lets grow a healthy Solomon Islands here on”, said Pastor Fafale.