The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Executive and the MHMS Project Management Unit Wednesday 27 received a courtesy visit from the World Bank County Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands Mr. Stephen Ndegwa.
Mr. Ndegwa is visiting Solomon Islands this week and has taken the opportunity to visit various World Bank financed project sites, including a visit to the Munda airport and Tina River Hydro Power Development site, whilst in the country. Mr. Ndegwa has also used his time here to meet with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Hon. Harry Kuma and key bilateral and multilateral development partners.
On Wednesday Mr. Ndegwa visited the MHMS Executive and made a site visit to the National Medical Store. The World Bank Country Director had the opportunity to hear from MHMS executives the health development challenges facing the country and discuss the World Bank’s partnership with the Solomon Islands Government to address some of these challenges through the World Bank financed COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, initially started with support for preparedness and response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now supporting the MHMS in several health system strengthening areas including the expansion of the National Medical Stores, installation of incinerators, training of health staff, and renovations of health facilities in the provinces.
Historically, the World Bank supported the Ministry of Health through the development and establishment of the Midwifery School initially located at the National Referral Hospital in the mid-1990s to early 2000s and then shifted to locate at the SICHE now the Solomon Islands National University almost 10 years ago. Since then, the World Bank’s engagement in the health sector has been in the analytical space of the sector to inform policies and strategies.
The current COVID-19 Emergency Response Project provides the Ministry an opportunity to reengage and partner with the World Bank. In welcoming the Pacific Director and acknowledging the World Bank for the current support at the MHMS, the Health Permanent Secretary, Ms Pauline McNeil also took the opportunity to highlight that that “the project was not only about PPEs and COVID vaccines but it also provides an opportunity to strength health system to better prepare the health sector for future pandemics. With the current implementation of the project, it also provides an opportunity for the Ministry to know and understand the operations of the WB”.
In looking towards the future, Health Permanent Secretary emphasized that the health needs of the country are huge, given the expansion of population accompanied with the demand for health services and the high burden of diseases particularly that of non-communicable diseases.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Project is currently channeled via a Project Management Unit (PMU) located at the MHMS, the first of its kind in the Ministry and managed by young talented and motivated national professionals who are passionate to achieve the expected deliverables of the project before the closure of the project in December 2024.