28 March 2020
Testing kits for diagnosing coronvirus and protective equipment for health officials engaged in tackling the threat posed by the infectious disease
In Papua New Guinea the Prime Minister, David Marape, said the country was desperate to get testing kits to test local people that were suspected of contracting coronavirus. He said a batch of testing kits was awaited from New Zealand.
In the Solomon Islands, Mr. Marape’s counterpart, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, also spoke last week about awaiting test kits from China. The Prime Minister did not say whether his government had placed an order for face masks and other protective gear for front line medical staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers and hospital personnel.
Writing in the Guardian yesterday, Sam Jones, reporting from Madrid in Spain said, quote:
“The Spanish government has withdrawn 9,000 Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits from use after it emerged that they had an accurate detection rate of just 30%.
“Like other countries struggling to diagnose and treat the virus, Spain has looked to China for rapid testing kits equipment and much-needed supplies, and announced this week that it would spend €432m on tests, masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
“However, a batch of Chinese-made kits bought by Spanish health authorities a few weeks ago has been pulled after they were discovered to be unreliable and the Chinese government said they had been made by a company that did not appear on its list of authorised manufacturers.
“In a statement on Thursday, Spain’s health ministry said it would be returning the kits, but stressed that they had not been bought directly from the Chinese manufacturer but from a supply company in Spain that had purchased them in China and had provided the necessary accompanying paperwork.
“The first tests on the rapid testing kits were carried out simultaneously by a hospital in Madrid and by the Carlos III Health Institute, and as soon as their low sensitivity was discovered, they were withdrawn,” said the ministry. “The supplier has been contacted and replacement tests will be provided.”
Spain follows EU regulations, which mean that if a product is certified to conform to European standards, it can be bought for use in Spain.
The Chinese Government issues a list of authorized manufacturers of rapid testing kits.
28 March 2020
The role religious leaders can play in relaying accurate information about Covid 19 and on preventative precautions.
In the Solomon Islands there is a strong Christian community and where religious leaders can play an important part in relaying accurate information about coronavirus and the preventative measures and precautions brought in by the government to stop the disease intruding into the country.
Congregants are more likely to trust not only their leaders, but those who share their faith. One of the best things religious leaders can do, then, is partner with the government and especially with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to ensure accurate information is conveyed to build up confidence, understanding and essentially to quash rumours .
I believe that the role that faith leaders can play in getting the word out about public health measures is considerable.
27 March 2020
Concern and the need for help to those in society who are handicapped and requiring justice and their human rights
Writing in the Solomon Times on Line today, Friday, Ms Georgina Kekea, tells the rather upsetting story of Susie who, when seven years old, was attacked by a shark and lost a limb as a result.
Georgina’s account of Susie’s life to adulthood handicapped with her disability should make us all think about the infirmity woes that affect some many disabled people in the Solomon Islands today, men, women, young and old.
A workshop on ‘Access to Justice’ was conducted in Honiara very recently and the reaction that followed the details of the workshop in the Solomon Star prompted a quick response from the Association of Persons with Disability in the Solomon Islands saying what had been raised and discussed at the workshop was of serious concern to all the members of the Association and citing accessing public infrastructure and justice systems and the stigma towards disability many still suffer.
For many years already it has been my passion to aid those with disabilities and some success was achieved with acquiring walking aids, wheel chairs and over 6,000 pairs of spectacles which were acquired through my partner charity ‘Take My Hands’ and Lions Clubs in New Zealand.
Most recently 300 crutches have been purchased with a generous donation from the Solomon Islands Forest Association (SFA) and the container with the crutches is expected to arrive in Honiara on 23 April, having been held-up to quarantine regulations being enforced at the port from where the container will leave.
The crutches, on arrival, will be delivered to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) for patients and ex-patients that have had surgery for the amputation of a lower limb. There are known to be over 400 awaiting the crutches.
The workshop that was previously used at the NRH for the manufacture of prosthetic (artificial) limbs has been demolished and currently no work is being done to make prosthetics despite the fact that three Solomon Islanders were sent overseas for training in making artificial limbs and I understand are awaiting re-employment at the NRH, subject to a new workshop being built or donated.
I have written on several occasions to the Medical Superintendent at the NRH and told Dr Hue of the work I have been doing to try and get a shipping container fitted out as a workshop at the NRH. I have also been in touch with manufacturers able to convert shipping containers to the specifications Dr Hue has expressed interest in acquiring.
On my website www.solomoinislandsinfocus.com I have detailed the workshop conversation needed and am hopeful because of the international reach of the website there might still be some charitable organization or engineering company willing to gift such a container/workshop to the NRH.
Building access for those with walking impediments remains a real and everyday issue in Honiara affecting those that go to work or those needing to buy groceries or visit a bank and I am not aware, despite writing of the concerns, anything has yet been done to give access to premises for the physically handicapped.
The “Access to Justice’ workshop should serve as the agent for change for the disabled community and it is my hope that changes for the better will follow and soon.
I would like to end by mentioning I have been communicating with a former expatriate teacher of sign language for the deaf. This person previously worked in Samoa and in the Solomon Islands aiding the deaf communities in both countries. He is keen to return to the Solomon Islands to once more give help and instruction to the local deaf community. He tells me he would only require a place to stay and a basic allowance to enable him to pay for his keep and to buy essentials.
Perhaps someone wishing to see the return of the volunteer could get in touch with me via the link on my website and I could then pass on the details or offer to the volunteer resident in Australia.
28 March 2020
“United we are strong – United we will win.”
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare has spoken to the nation following the declaration of a State of Public Emergency made by the Governor General, Sir David Vunagi, GCMG last week in relation to the threat posed by COVID 19.
Prime Minister Sogavare identified six essential restriction orders that effectively have closed down the country’s borders and rendered the capital, Honiara, an emergency zone.
In his national address, Prime Minister Sogavare said, “If there is any fight to be fought together by all of us it is the fight against Covid 19. We are all in this together let us all work and cooperate together to fight our common enemy.”
It has been seen as courageous for the government to have imposed strict quarantine measures at a time when some countries have dismissed such moves as an overreaction.
The Prime Minister has boldly summoned a call for national unity at a time of crisis and cited the words of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s war time leader when he, too, called on the British people to demonstrate unity and courage in tackling a common threat.
To deliver the most effective coronavirus response possible there must be national unity and cross party cooperation.
The Solomon Islands Government has called on the people to make some very considerable changes to their lives, to abide by the restrictions placed on their movements, habits and social interaction. It is only right that the Government stays firm and stands behind the people as the changes are implemented and enforced.
I urge the people of the Solomon Islands to accept the temporary sacrifices of their freedom of movement and assembly and to show to the watching world how together the fight against coronavirus can be won.
Australia issues warning of last Solomons flight
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 27 March 2020
“The Australian High Commission in Solomon Islands has issued a notice advising any Australian intending to return home that today will be the last commercial Solomon Airlines flight to Brisbane for a while.
“This comes as Solomon Islanders await a public address from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during which he will outline the restrictions that will be put in place under the State of Public Emergency declared on Wednesday.
“The high commission posted on it's official Facebook page that seats were still available for today's flight and urged Australian wishing to leave the country to book immediately.
“When asked about the notice, Solomon Airlines said they were keen to continue flying but they would have to abide by whatever restrictions the government put in place.
“Solomon Airlines thrice-weekly service between Honiara and Brisbane is currently the only international airlink to the country.
“Solomon Islands has no confirmed Covid-19 cases although health authorities are awaiting test results of three suspected cases.”
Copyright @ 2020, Radio New Zealand.