UNICEF, together with partners, is supporting the Solomon Islands Government to help its communities prepare and respond to the threat faced by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, UNICEF has delivered 209,420 doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services through the COVAX Facility, along with technical and training support for activities including cold chain system strengthening.
In addition, other essential medical items have also been procured to respond to the outbreak of the virus, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, swabs, thermometers, testing kits, gloves, cold chain equipment and medical gowns. Apart from medical items, UNICEF has also supported with 1,000 water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and dignity kits for home-based care support for COVID-19 affected families as well as 40 tents for vaccination teams, and other COVID-related activities.
UNICEF is also supporting children in Solomon Islands to continue their learning following school closures, while also preparing to reopen schools as early as possible, using the Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools for Pacific Island countries.
“UNICEF, together with our partners, will continue working closely with the Solomon Islands Government to limit transmission of the virus,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “We are strongly supporting the government in increasing the vaccination rate, together with other preventative measures, which will be able to protect about 720,000 people, including fifty per cent of which are children living in the country, against the virus.”
This assistance has been delivered according to Solomon Islands’ COVID-19 preparedness and response needs, along with communication materials to use in schools and communities, to inform the public about the symptoms of COVID-19, what to do if someone is feeling unwell, and actions to take to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) expressed sincere thanks to UNICEF for the tremendous support rendered throughout the preparedness phase and to the current response to community transmission of COVID-19 in Solomon Islands.
“The current health strategy focuses on reducing the burden of disease, limiting the number of hospitalization and deaths, early identification of serious cases and provision of appropriate treatment to those who require it. A parallel process is to intensify the vaccine delivery.”
“These we are able to implement safely from the support received from UNICEF from test kits, personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control supplies to ultra-cold fridges and COVID-19 vaccines,” explained Mrs. McNeil.
She added that though cases and COVID-19 related deaths continue to increase, the country is also seeing recoveries and increasing number of discharges, not only amongst those severely sick and admitted at health facilities, but also thousands more in communities.
“We have been able to deploy to all our provinces, appropriate rapid antigen test kits and other accessories for lab testing with all provinces commencing COVID-19 testing. This includes medicines, personal protective equipment as well as infection prevention and control supplies. Importantly, we are also continuing with the COVID-19 vaccination roll out nationwide,” stated Mrs. McNeil. “Though the end of the recovery road may still be far off, we remain determined, committed and dedicated to tackle this virus to the best of our ability and with the resources at hand.”
UNICEF and the Solomon Islands Government will continue to reach communities with life-saving information to keep them safe and protected, including avoiding crowded spaces, physical distancing, hand washing and proper use of face masks.
-Joint UNICEF & MHMS Press