The Public Health Emergency Bill (PHEB) received inputs from church representatives following consultation held today (17th Feb) with members of the Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) and Solomon Islands Full Gospel Association (SIFGA).
Opening the consultation, Attorney-General Mr John Muria explained the importance of having inputs from churches into the bill.
“Our churches are by far one of the most important and critical institution in our society that not only influence and shape almost all aspects of our lives but also reach and touch every single person across the country. In fact a community is incomplete without a church and this is evident in the structure of a church building every communities across the country including a minister or pastor and the people as the congregation”.
“Furthermore, churches continues to play an important role both in the socio economic development aspirations of our country including responses to crises and emergencies experienced in the past and today with the COVID-19 global pandemic and will continue to remain an important stakeholder and partner in this regard. Therefore it is of outmost important that their views and opinions are also captured to shape and define the bill”, explained the Attorney-General.
He added, “as such, the PHEB taskforce is very pleased to reach out to our churches for their participation in the consultations and we greatly appreciate the attendance of every single one of you here today”.
The consultations kicked off with presentations on the overview of COVID-19 and the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan by MHMS Advisor Dr Yogesh Choudhri followed by presentations on the International Health Regulation (IHR) by MHMS Legal Officer Ms Yvonne Ogaoga and the Public Health Emergency Bill by the Attorney-General.
Following the presentations, participants had the chance to discuss each of the key components of the bill in groups followed by presentations from each of the groups.
In his closing remarks and on behalf of the participants, Rev. Erick Takila expressed sincere appreciation towards the government for recognizing the importance of having views and opinions of the churches for consideration and inclusion into the bill.
“We are indeed grateful towards the government for this recognition and the facilitators for their time and effort in the consultation. In fact we have also benefited from it in gaining enhanced understanding about the COVID-19 global pandemic, COVID vaccines, amongst many other topics thus a very big thank you on behalf of all the participants here today”.
Rev. Takila highlighted “as members of SICA and SIFGA we are pleased to support the development of the bill through our contributions today and we hope that the PHEB taskforce finds our contribution helpful in the development of the bill. “ We assure that we will continue to support the development of the country where needed”.
Consultation with the churches today is part of the final round of PHEB consultations with key stakeholders. Except for Malaita and Western Provinces representative from other provinces and the parliamentary opposition are next in line for the PHEB consultation before taskforce move to finalise and submit to parliament.
The PHEB aims to replace the current State of the Public Emergency once it comes to its end.