In the first of his official provincial engagements as the new Minister of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Honourable Dr Culwick Togamana together with MHMS Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil and MHMS Under Secretary Health Care Dr Greg Jilini paid a courtesy visit to the Premier of Western Province Honourable David Gina yesterday afternoon.
The Health Minister and his team arrived in Gizo on Monday this week to officially receive the new COVID-19 isolation ward at Gizo Hospital from WHO. The ward was built for TB patients with funds from Global Fund and with the COVID-19 threat WHO had upgraded the facility to also cater for COVID-19 patients.
During the meeting, Premier Gina congratulated Dr Togamana on his new appointment and conveyed that his executive is looking forward to his support in the implementation of the province’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan including other health areas. The Premier also acknowledged the courtesy visit by the Minister and his team and their engagements in Gizo.
The premier, provincial health minister and deputy provincial secretary also used the occasion as an opportunity to update the Health Minister and his team on their progress in implementing the province’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and acknowledged the support received from the Ministry of Health through the provincial Ministry of Health and Medical services so far.
The premier also openly discussed areas of concern, relating to the need for more resources to capacitate and enable the province to effectively and efficiently implement its COVID-19 operations. These included the need for sea transportation, swift establishment of COVID19 facilities such as quarantine centres and isolation wards, gazetting of other ready to use quarantine facilities and the reopening of some of the health clinics and area health centres for the rural communities.
The Minister thanked the premier for officially receiving the health team to his province and acknowledged the frank discussions around how the MHMS can continue to effectively provide the required support to boost COVID-19 operations in the western province.
Nevertheless, with the work done so far, Dr Togamana conveyed his admiration to the Western Provincial Government (WPG) for their commitment and dedication towards preventing entry of COVID-19 at the western border so far in light of increasing COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea and one confirmed case in Bougainville. He explained that in doing so, the WPG is also protecting the country as whole from the global pandemic.
Dr Togamana also informed the Premier of the current MHMS support to the western province and explained that this is part of Ministry and the government as a whole in ensuring decentralization of COVID-19 readiness to the provinces.
Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil and Under Secretary Health Care Dr Greg Jilini also provided global and regional COVID-19 updates for the premier and his team as well as providing clarifications on other concerns raised during the meeting. As part of the visit schedule, the Minister and his team will also be visiting Gizo Hospital COVID-19 laboratory and Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene projects along Titiana community in Gizo.
Team will return to Honiara on Wednesday this week.