Helena Goldie Hospital (HGH) and Noro Clinic, in Western Province, are among the health facilities identified by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) for increased investment to improve health care and services under the World Bank financed COVID-19 Emergency Response Project. The Project, USD13 Million in financing, is currently being implemented by the MHMS via its Project Management Unit as part of enhancing capacities and capabilities to respond more effectively to COVID-19 and future outbreaks of diseases and infections as well as strengthening the health system.
In HGH, the project will invest in renovations of the general ward, operating theatre and the labour ward as well as construction of a new isolation unit and provision of new generator set. In addition, a brand-new Toyota Landcruiser and a 60-hose powered outboard engine and Ray boat to support with the hospital’s logistics have already been procured and delivered to the hospital. For Noro clinic, the project will procure and install a new incinerator to safely dispose of medical waste.
With significant investments and projects to deliver on in the province, a joint visit by the Ministry of Health and the World Bank was undertaken over the weekend. This visit enabled the team to meet, interact and raise awareness around the project investments to the Executive of the Uniting Church of Solomon Islands (UCSI) who is an important key stakeholder to the implementation on the improvement of HGH, staff and patients of HGH and Noro clinic including the Noro town authorities, president and councillors.
The site visit enabled the team to listen to frontline health workers and patients including community members on their concerns and experiences with the health service and care provided at these facilities and also to see first-hand the status of these facilities.
Throughout the visit and meetings Health Permanent Secretary (PS) Mrs Pauline McNeil highlighted the Ministry’s commitment in implementing the Role Delineation Policy and its goal of ensuring that improved quality and expanded health care services are brought closer to the people where they live. PS highlighted that Munda and Noro serves tens of thousands of people within their catchment area including the nearby islands and villages and the health needs of the population are growing, hence it is only fitting these facilities are improved particularly at Helena Goldie Hospital as it is the closed referral hospital for communities around Munda, Noro, North New Georgia, Rendova and even Marovo.
Dr Wayne J. Irava, Health Specialist at the World Bank Solomon Islands Office and Mr. Netsanet Workie, Senior Health Economist, based at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington D.C United States who were also part of the joint visit expressed the Bank’s pleasure to be funding and providing technical support to this important project to support the country’s emergency response to COVID-19 community transmission, prepare for future outbreaks and diseases, and invest in health system strengthening.
Representatives of the UCSI, Mr. Nichole Bird, Human Resource Officer, and Mr Eddie Pratt, UCSI Assembly Treasurer, both expressed on behalf of the UCSI Moderator and assembly office the excitement to receive the support announced by the visiting team which they said will go long way into serving the health needs of those within the hospital’s catchment area including new visitors with the expected increase in tourism in the area.
President of Noro Township Mr. Fred Naphtalae and his officials also welcomed the proposed installation of a new medical waste incinerator. “Given new developments taking place in our town, the growing population, also due to migration from other parts of the province and other provinces for work, the new incinerator will surely ensure all medical wastes are safely disposed of, thus protecting our population against health risks.” He assured their support to the project to ensure the objectives come to fruition and to future support in the health sector.
Noro clinic nurse, Slessor Fairií, explained to the visiting team that throughout the COVID-19 community transmission, their medical waste was disposed of only few meters away from the clinic, posing risks of spread of infection even though their primary goal was to stop the spread. “There was no option for us but to use the open pit close to the clinic. This proposed new incinerator will enable us to carry out our job more effectively in preventing spread of sickness thus protecting both staff and patients in future outbreaks as well as in normal times”.
On the final day of visit, the team visited the HGH where they handed over key of the hospital’s new outboard motor engines including all safety equipment and the ray boat to the HGH Medical Superintendent Dr Hendrick Kaniki.
The handing over was followed by visit to the hospital’s general ward, birthing room, labour and children’s ward including the operating theatre and generator-set house which will all be refurbished and upgraded. The proposed site for the new isolation unit was also visited. The visiting teams interacted with staff and patients and listened to their experiences while conveying the support that has been set in motion.