WALE QUESTIONS GOVT OVER LEGAL PROTECTION FOR PROVINCIAL HEALTH WORKERS

Leader of Opposition Hon. Matthew Wale questions the government over protection under law for provincial health officials and front liners required to participate in Covid-19 related activities.

“The Guadalcanal Province Premier raised a very important point yesterday.  Besides capacity and the need for adequate support being important considerations in provincial preparedness plans, legal authority and indemnity protections for their health workers and front liners under law are also equally crucial.

“We now have provincial health workers in Choiseul, Western and Malaita provinces engaged and so the concern is a national one,” says Hon. Wale.

The Opposition Leader stressed that the declaration of a State of Public Emergency in his understanding, effectively suspended all applicable laws replacing them with the State of Public Emergency (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 and the powers vested on the PM to appoint authorised officers. 

“This can mean, suspension of the application of the Environment Health Act, the only law that provides a comprehensive legal framework tailored to validate authorisation, delegation, entitlements and indemnity for provincial health workers and volunteers engaged to deal with any health pandemic.”

“With no cross reference to this Act in the Covid-19 Regulations it raises the question of whether provincial health officers and workers are protected by law when engaged to deal with Covid-19. 

“Do the authorisation provisions in the Covid-19 Regulation cover indemnity issues and how so?” Hon. Wale questioned.

He points out that considering the importance of this matter, the government needs to explain these areas so any pitfalls, weaknesses or shortcomings still outstanding are addressed at the earliest.

“The fact that the proposed health emergency bill will come to Parliament in November will not help and must not be an excuse for further delay in addressing this concern,” the Opposition Leader added.