A two days planning workshop for effective and efficient management of COVID-19 during lockdowns and community transmission for Honiara and Guadalcanal provinces have commenced on 19 August 2021 in Honiara.
The workshop aims to raise awareness around lockdowns and community transmission and facilitate self- reflection and assessment, discussions and debates, for better strategies, approaches and use of limited resources to managing COVID-19 during lockdowns and community transmission.
Delivering remarks to officially open the workshop, Mrs. Pauline McNeil Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health explained the importance of the workshop.
“With threat of new Delta variant, the preparedness and response activities need to step up. With its highly transmissible nature, we expect to see higher number of cases with Delta variant as compared to other variants. It is time that we be operationally ready to manage the COVID cases. It calls for surge plan to be revised and adequate number of beds and other medical supplies provisioned”.
While we have COVID-19 vaccines, our only single best option to tackle the pandemic, the uptake rate to date still presents concerns a only 3.3 percent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This has led to the Oversight Committee to submit proposal to the government a revised lock down plan from the previous lock down exercise last year. With the plan now approved, MHMS is determined to improve its plan that is focused on limiting the transmission of COVID-19 should it emerges in the community”,
“I thank all of you here today health officials and staff, donors and partners including key individuals from other line ministries of the government. Our engagements, from presentations, discussions to debates and critiquing ourselves and identifying solutions will all go a long way to enhance health response to a lockdown and community transmission scenario”, stated Mrs. McNeil.
Mrs. McNeil also took the opportunity to express her deep appreciation to all participants for the sheer determination and unwavering commitment and dedication towards the preservation of health and lives of the people and country against COVID-19.
“Many sacrifices have been made indeed and risks to our own health and lives did not stop us from fulfilling our duties in our various positions and for that we must all take pride in our collective efforts”,
“I would also like to register a huge thank you as well to our partners, the relevant line ministries of the government, technical agencies WHO and UNICEF donors, Australia, China, New Zealand, Japan, World Bank and all for the support towards COVID-19 health efforts. Truly, your support has enabled us to successfully manage the 20 positive cases, kept the country COVID-19 free for 4 months now and prevent the worst case scenario, that is a community transmission”, said Mrs McNeil.
The Health Permanent Secretary however cautioned that guards must be kept up and there no room must be allowed for complacency, as the threat of COVID-19, let alone the delta variant that spreads fast is a real threat to the country.
“We don’t need to look beyond our region. The devastation of COVID-19 to families and communities is happening right at our door -steps with our neighboring countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Children are losing parents, pregnant mothers dying from their babies, families torn apart, people losing jobs, health systems overwhelmed, lockdowns affecting livelihoods are all real experiences happening around us”,
“One life lost is one too many. Every life lost represent someone’s partner, child, parent, friend, neighbor or colleague. Therefore lets use this wonderful opportunity to develop a plan that can best utilize our current capacity, capabilities and resources to its full potential to effectively and efficiently fulfill our current priority goal of preserving the health of our people against COVID-19 while at the same time ensure continuation of all other health programs and projects including services. Thank you!”, concluded Mrs. McNeil.
Invited speakers also included Sr Elizabeth Rodgers and Sean Casey from WHO Fiji who shared their experiences in response to COVID-19 in Fiji and other selected countries in the Pacific.
This is first workshop in a series of workshops which will be held for the provinces for surge planning in provinces.