The ceremony was held at the NPHL area within the Solomon Islands National University (SINU), Kukum Campus area.
The new office once completed is expected to accommodate all the lab technicians working at the lab.
Currently they are cramped into a small working space.
The project to build this new office space is fully funded by the Enhance Integrated Framework (EIF), Agriculture Project or (ECAT) project.
This will enable NPHL in its capacity to carry out proper testing and analysis of the targeted agriculture products under the ECAT project.
The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).
Speaking during the ceremony, Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele said the new office space is worth SBD$827,068.00 will enable NPHL to have its very own office space for the first time.
“This office will enable NPHL in its capacity to carry out proper testing and analysis of the targeted agricultural products under the ECAT Project.
“This is an important requirement to be able to export and ensuring general food safety for domestic consumption.
“We are aware that the NPHL staff have been using the lab as an office space for the past couple of years and this has affected the country’s broader objective of ISO certification and accreditation mainly on the micro-biology area,” Minister Manele said.
He said in order to achieve ISO certification, one of the requirements is that NPHL staff will need to have their own office space.
He explained that t is from this that the EIF ECAT project as part of its work plans has stepped in to assist the NPHL team.
He said that it is not the first time EIF ECAT project has stepped in to assist the NPHL.
“In March the project also provided SBD$140,000 worth of lab equipment’s and chemicals to the NPHL.
“This shows the commitment the EIF has to ensuring that NPHL has enough resources at its disposal.
“This project will see a new office space being built beside the current lab and aims to be completed by the end of this year,” Manele said.
He added the total support towards NPHL is around SBD $2.5m over 3years.
He emphasized that the ECAT financial support will not solve everything that the NPHL needs but will at least pave the way for more collaboration and allocation of budgetary support from the National Government and Development Partners.
Manele then thanked EIF program and its multilateral donor partners for the financial support through which they are able to systematically prioritize and intervene in selected agriproducts but more importantly looking at the gaps in the value chain of these products.
Ministry of Health and Medical Service, Minister Dr Culwick Togamana said the ground breaking ceremony marks another milestone of the cooperation and working relationship between key government ministries, donor partners and private sector.
Dr. Togamana thanked Enhance Integrated Framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for funding the Solomon Islands Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade project, which includes the improvement of the Ministry of Health’s NPHL facility and supply of basic laboratory equipment.
He said the National Public Health Laboratory will be playing a critical role in implementing this policy by facilitating quality assurance testing of food and water to improve National Health Service coverage and meet Global Trade requirements for Food Safety Standards,” Dr. Togamana said.
Dr. Togamana then congratulated the Motawa Enterprises for winning the bidder for the project.
Meanwhile, Motawa Enterprises Contractor thanked both Ministries of MFAET and MHMS for choosing Motawa Enterprises in the implementation of the project.
Motawa Enterprises Contractor then reassured MFAET and MHMS that they will deliver a quality office building that will be completed in four to five months time.
By ESTHER NURIA