Following the successful negotiation with the World Bank by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Health and Medical Services over the past weeks, an additional financing of US$8 million (Approximately SBD64million) to the US$5milion (SBD40million) provided by World Bank in 2021, has been recently approved by the World Bank to further support the current COVID-19 response and work on going beyond the pandemic to strengthening the health systems in Solomon Islands.
Mrs Pauline McNeil, Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary acknowledged the additional support by the World Bank as timely as the country is now facing 2nd wave of COVID-19 infection caused by the Omicron variant which spreads faster and even affects children as young as 2 months old, though less deadly than Delta.
“This additional financing, will gear towards enhancing the sector’s capacity and capabilities to effectively manage our COVID-19 patients, intensify the roll out of COVID-19 vaccination, support the ongoing logistical and operational costs of pandemic response efforts and of course ramp up COVID-19 risk communication activities at the community level”,
“As part of this we will utilize the funds to bolster personal protective equipment supplies for front line health workers including case detection and contact tracing activities, further IPC training for health workers around the country. It will also cover the costs of response efforts, including gender-based violence support and community engagements and dissemination of COVID-19 safe measures messages and promotion of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Health Permanent Secretary however added that “the response to COVID-19 has pushed our health systems to and beyond our limits, but we are taking this opportunity to strengthen and improve our health systems across the country. The funds will gear towards upgrade quarantine and isolation facilities, improvements to the National Medical Store facility and waste management and other infrastructure development initiatives”, said Mrs. McNeil.
She added that resources will also be provided to other health service areas to mitigate disruptions caused by COVID-19 to ensure progress of the Ministry’s Role Delineation Policy implementation and towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) remains on track.
Of the additional financing of US$8million, this includes US$3million from a Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Trust Fund to support costs including for transport and community engagement to ensure accurate vaccine information is shared widely with the community, by church leaders, community groups and through the media.
World Bank Funding to the Ministry of Health is implemented by the Ministry’s Project Management Unit (PMU).