The Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MOFT), the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the World Bank (WB) yesterday concluded negotiations on a WB funded project worth USD 5 million (over SBD$40 million) to support Solomon Island COVID-19 ongoing preparedness and current response.
The project components and activities under each component are designed to support critical gaps identified through the 2020 Consolidated National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19. It will complement activities that have already been committed by other development partners including the Australian government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The project coverage will be national in scale and will also include specific support to selected provinces.
WB Task Team Leader for the project, Mr Netsanet Walelign Workie who is based in Washington, said that the Bank was ready to support the country with its COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts. “We are pleased to assist the Solomon Islands Government in their sustained efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Solomon Islands is among few countries that were COVID-19 free for long since the first positive case was confirmed in early October the government managed effective quarantine and tracking system to keep the cases low. As we speak all COVID-19, cases are imported with no community transmission and no death. This is remarkable”, said Mr. Workie.
Meanwhile MOFT Permanent Secretary Mr. Dentana McKinnie highlighted “the Ministry of Finance is very pleased to have co-led with the Ministry of Health the successful negotiations with the World Bank on the project and very much looking forward towards the implementation of the project that is geared towards enhancing health’s capacity and capability to tackle COVID-19. In the long run it will preserve and improve the health of our people”.
He explained that for our country’s economy that is characterized, as labor intensive, it is critical that we continue to ensure that the health of our population is well protected, preserved and enhanced. “As such thank you World Bank for the provision of funds and looking forward towards continued cooperation with the Ministry of Health in the implementation of the project”, stated Mr. Dentana.
MHMS Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil also echoed similar sentiments in acknowledging WB for provision of funds towards the project while highlighting that the project will further bolster our ongoing preparedness and current responses to COVID-19, as well as ensure that the country continuous with routine services and its commitment towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
She added, “while most development assistance received was in preparedness and response to COVID-19, these investments also contributed to long-term health system strengthening initiatives that further advanced our goals towards UHC. So therefore, the Ministry is not only just preparing and responding to the current pandemic, but simultaneously we were also strengthening our health system. This funding support is yet another milestone in this regard”.
Permanent Secretary McNeil also revealed that the facility will also assist the Ministry towards the nation-wide rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine in 2021.
Project implementation is proposed for early January 2021 once the Christmas and New Year holidays are over. A project management unit will be mobilized and established within the Ministry to ensure the successful implementation of the WB supported project”.