Solomon Islands is now a step closer to achieving accreditation for testing of products following the opening of a new National Public Health Laboratory office complex last week.
The SBD$1.1million project is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) through the Solomon Islands – Enhancing Capacity for Agriculture Trade Project (SI-ECAT).
The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) is a multi-donor programme which supports Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in their efforts in promoting economic growth and sustainable development by addressing trade and trade-related constrains in order to build capacity to trade and take advantage of global trade.
Speaking during the opening ceremony last week, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Honourable Jeremiah Manele said this is a step forward and road towards accreditation through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
“This is the “Big Dream”. To have our very own lab accredited. So that we can lower some of the costs of international trade, mainly in relation to our exports,” said Hon Manele.
He said one of the very crucial consideration is for the NPHL staffs to have their own office.
“We have seen and recognised that our NPHL officers have been using the Lab for testing and also as their office, which defeats the “Big Dream”, said Hon Manele.
Hon Manele said there have also been some support from partners, activities geared toward ensuring the laboratory have capacity to do test safely.
“The EIF ECAT project, have also supported with equipment’s and consumables and some trainings and consultancy activities, but this office building will be a big leap and progress towards accreditation,” he said.
Hon Manele said there are two components of the Lab that needs to be looked at to ensure that Laboratory operations and manuals are in compliance with international standards and therefore accreditation.
“These are in the areas of Micro Biology which is what the STDF program is supporting and Chemistry which the EIF ECAT will continue to support,” he said.
Manele added that the road towards eventually achieving accreditation will be long and will need all the support that is required to achieve it.
“With appropriate budget allocation and support, I am confident that we will achieve the big dream – accreditation,” he said.
Manele thanked the EIF ECAT for the support and encouraged collaboration between MFAET and MHMS and other ministries who have the same aspirations going forward.
The Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Culwick Togamana meanwhile said that he was extremely impressed with the new facility.
“This is the first time in history for our NPHL scientists to be adequately accommodated in a proper office space.
“The new office space will enable the NPHL to meet current ISO 17025 accommodation requirements, which will boost local testing capacity to international standards for the export of agricultural commodities such as Cassava and Taro including our very own Soltuna products, Kava, Noni Juice and so forth,” said Hon Dr Togamana.
He added that as Solomon Islands prepares to graduate from LDC status by 2024, there is more to be done in terms of enhancing local capacity to be competitive in global markets.
Hon Dr Togamana thanked other Government Ministries, Donor Partners and the Private sector for partnership and cooperation in making the project a success.
This is not the first time that the EIF project has assisted the NPHL.
The EIF ECAT project, have also supported the NPHL with equipment’s & consumables and some trainings and consultancy activities.
The EIF project is housed within the Department of External Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET).