The National Immunization Program, Regional Eye Center (REC) and the National Referral Hospital (NRH) on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th of July, received site visits from six Australian Members of Parliament.
The visits were for the Members to gain first-hand insights into the programmes funded by the Australian government either directly or via donor partners such as the Fred Hollows Foundation and to better understand the strengths and challenges Solomon Islands’ has in its implementation and operation.
The six Members first visited the Aruligo Community High School on Monday 17th, and witnessed 32 female students’ ages 9 to 14 years who received their Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, National Immunization Program introduced the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in 2014. However, revitalization of the HPV vaccination program had started this year with single dose for girls’ ages 9 to 14 years. Australia is the major sponsor of the HPV vaccination program through GAVI.
HPV is very important because it prevents cervical cancer, a leading cancer in women, causing deaths. Thus, the vaccine is free and safe, with many countries using it including Australia and Fiji, resulting in the dramatic drop of cervical cancer cases in those countries.
The National Immunization Program encourages families of their daughters ages 9 to 14 years to receive HPV vaccine as this can go a long way to prevent these young girls from cervical cancers. HPV vaccines are available at all Honiara City Council public clinics and all provincial health clinics.
The six Australian Members of Parliament then visited the Regional Eye Centre (REC) and the National Referral Hospital (NRH). The REC and the NRH were honoured and privileged to host the delegates on the 18th of July.
Dr Carole Poloso, Head of Department at the REC, highlighted that as implementers of the mostly donor funded programmes, that it was important to share with the delegates where DFAT money was being invested and for the Members to bare witness to the patients that benefit from such support.
“I would like to thank the Save the Children Fund and DFAT whose collaboration has enabled the visit to happen so that the National Eye Program can share its story of its successes, proactively address areas of improvement and way forward in our fight against avoidable blindness. We look forward for renewed support from DFAT to assist the National Eye Program in fulfilling its activities, especially with the Provincial outreaches and also to work more closely with our Provincial partners”, said Dr Carole.
Meanwhile, the visiting MPS also visited the Australia Volunteers working at National Referral Hospital under the Solomon Islands Medical Partnership Volunteers Program (SIMPLER).