Historical moment indeed and one that marks the beginning of what is expected to be a life-changing journey for all Solomon Islanders when Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana finally penned his signature to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services of Solomon Islands, after what has been two years in the making.
This MOU will oversee the implementation and construction of the Comprehensive Medical Centre at the Eastern Wing of the National Referral Hospital.
Once completed this will be the country’s first comprehensive medical centre capable of diagnosing heart-related problems and other renal diseases including dialysis capabilities. In its practical sense those having heart problems, such as chest pains, hypertension or high blood pressure, various forms of heart diseases, including heart defects, cardiovascular disease or illness affecting blood vessels and the four valves of the heart, can be examined for precise identification of the problem with the relevant and appropriate treatment provided. The new medical centre will be useful along with the CT scan equipment.
People with complaints related to chronic kidney diseases, including acute kidney injury, kidney stones, infections and cysts and cancer can be diagnosed and necessary treatment provided.
The signing of the MOU followed the signing of the on-site feasibility study of the project’s in May, last month. The financial arrangement for the proposed 4 storeys medical comprehensive centre is provided for the MOU and will be fully funded by PRC in closely collaboration with the National Referral Hospital.
The MOU also enabled short and long term visits and specialized attachments, study visits, and human resource deployment of medical teams in both China and the Solomon Islands.
This will see specialist doctors and including nurses from China coming into the country not only to help with health care services but more importantly transfer important crucial knowledge and skills to our medical team in the country.
Likewise, our medical staff will also have the opportunity to travel to and also work in China to gain experience, knowledge and skills to further enhance their capacities. To enable this to happen, the MOU also provide counterpart hospital collaborations between the Solomon Islands and China.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019 China has been a major donor to the country’s health sector, especially towards the country’s preparedness and response to COVID-19.
A significant amount of financial assistance was pumped into the health sector, enabling the smooth and timely implementation of COVID-19 related response activities. Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, is provided by China. China also provided thousands, of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) kits, and Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) supplies that greatly enabled health workers to protect themselves while discharging their duties, including medical equipment crucial for the management of COVID-19 patients. Refurbishment and upgrade of the NRH isolation and maternity ward were also generously provided by China.
All these support received were also formalized yesterday with the signing of the handover certificate between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands Government.
The signing of the MOU was made possible with the visit of China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a high-level delegation who arrived on Wednesday this week in Honiara.
The signing of the MOU and handover certificates were witnessed by the Honourable Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The MOU will now pave the way for both parties to implement the partnership arrangements going forward.