Posted by : Posted on : 05-Jun-2020

Solomon Islands:  A call to redefine accountability for public health.

In Honiara, theMinistry of Health and Medical Service’s (MHMS) is currently holding its five days’ COVID-19 emergency response training workshop.

It has been said the workshop aims to critically review, update and harmonize the MHMS’s emergency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and strengthen all other aspects of its COVID-19 preparedness and response.

The MHMS Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil, reportedly said during the workshop, “The COVID-19 36 hours’ lockdown exercise had exposed some of our inadequacies and unraveled some of our weaknesses of our preparedness and response. However, this training provides us with an opportunity to improve on aspects of our efforts that were inadequate during the lockdown particularly in revisiting our SOPs and to ensure that these SOPs are practical and workable during real time scenario”.

As reported earlier by a police officer on duty during the lockdown, there were some people reportedly suffering from mental illness roaming the streets during the hours of lockdown and I hope the workshop will focus some attention on the plight of those suffering disability in the community and see help is provided.

Dr. Sevil Huseynova , the  WHO Country Representative in the Solomon Islands, highlighted during  the workshop  that Solomon Islands is among the only 12 countries in the world that still maintains a COVID-19 free status and it is important to grasp the opportunity to build capacities of respondents to effectively and efficiently tackle any entry and outbreak of COVID-19.

Dr. Huseynova went on to talk about the need to redefine accountability for health, where individual health should be considered as a public good – very much as I have tried to highlight in several letters to the local media.

Quoting Dr. Huseynova, the participants at the workshop were told.

 “Greater attention is required for community engagement, health promotion and public health prevention to focus at each individual in our communities to keep them healthier for a greater good, including the continuity of gains made in immunization, maternal and child care, malaria & tuberculosis elimination efforts, and non-communicable diseases.”

“We must also consider this “new normal” in public health planning which may involve how we can efficiently use our very limited resources to maximize gains as COVID-19 may present a situation of lower economic income for both the state and households leading to less monetary contributions to the health sector which in turn can lead to a deteriorating state of public health, with more out-of-pocket spending by households.”

 Sources: MHMS and Solomon Times.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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