Posted by : Posted on : 20-Apr-2020

Solomon Islands:  Public health in the light of Covid-19 – today and tomorrow.

Today, the Solomon Times on Line published a lengthy statement by Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the UN Under Secretary and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Ms Alisjahbana’s statement was titled, “Asia-Pacific Response to COVID-19 and Climate Emergency Must Build a Resilient and Sustainable Future.”

The unprecedented public health emergency triggered by the COVID -19 pandemic and its multi-faceted impact on people’s lives around the world is taking a heavy toll on Asia and the Pacific,” Ms Alisjahnana said.

I was especially drawn to three paragraphs in the statements for their relevance and importance and especially so in the context of the Solomon Islands post-Covid-19.

Here are the details, quote.

“Countries in our region are striving to mitigate the massive socio economic impact of the pandemic, which is also expected to affect the region’s economic health. In its annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 launched recently, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) expects growth in Asia-Pacific developing economies to slow down significantly this year. Bold investments to sustain the region’s physical and economic well-being is imperative.

“The Survey advises policymakers to protect the economic health of the region with measures that support affected businesses and households and prevent economic contagion. To tackle COVID-19 in developing Asia-Pacific countries, the Survey also calls for an estimated increase in health emergency spending by USD$880 million per year through to 2030. Fiscal support will be crucial in enhancing health responders’ ability to monitor the spread of the pandemic and caring for infected people.

“ESCAP is also calling on Asia-Pacific countries to consider setting up a regional health emergency preparedness fund. The pandemic is also an opportunity for us to rethink our economic growth path that has come at a heavy cost to people and the planet. According to the latest ESCAP assessment on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Asia and the Pacific is not on track to achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, with regression on several environmental Goals.”

In separate news today, it has been reported that the Prime Minister. Manasseh Sogavare, and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office will visit the National Referral Hospital (NRH) to inspect a number of COVID-19 facility sites and acquired equipment.

A statement from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services said the half-day visit will allow Prime Minister Sogavare and his officials to see firsthand some of the new equipment and sites that have been prepared to deal with any confirmed COVID-19 case, should one occur.

The brief tour will see the delegation visit some of the important facilities such as the triage area (front reception), the isolation units, storage area, the quarantine site for NRH staff, the mortuary, the newly purchased ventilator, the medical lab, the birth centre and view the progress in preparing the ground for the facility that will eventually accommodate a CT Scan machine.

The Prime Minister will open the isolation facility at the NRH during the visit.

The planned visit comes as the country has recorded, as of yesterday, zero cases of COVID-19 from the 13 suspected cases that had been sent overseas for testing.

In other rather disappointing news, I have to say the vessel bringing 300 crutches for the NRH has been held-up in its home port due to the lock-down measures now in place and I await further news as to when then vessel will be able to sail for Honiara.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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