Our appeal in light of COVID-19 - Solomon Star News

Our appeal in light of COVID-19

20 March 2020

TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands lauds and commends the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in their tireless efforts towards protecting the Solomon Islands from the COVID- 19 pandemic that is affecting the countries of the world regardless of their development status. 

This is a mammoth task for a Ministry that is mandated, tasked and expected to provide health and medical services to the people of Solomon Islands and rise to these challenges and yet very poorly resourced in every aspect.

Transparency Solomon Islands acknowledges the assistance that is given by our neighbour Australia in testing facilities, China for sharing their findings on COVID-19 with the world, and provision of test kits to the Solomon Islands.  

Other development partners are also assisting us in whatever way they can.

Information is power and the most important in pandemics. The Solomon Islands' most important valued assistance in the fight to control COVID – 19 is the sharing of information by China in the fight against this global pandemic. 

The sharing of information extends to scientists working together to understand the virus, mode of transmission, important in strategy to limit the spread.

These findings have been contributed to strategies taken in China and in other affected countries including the Solomon Islands, to limit spread. 

They have shared with the world what works in limiting spread and infection working with WHO is at the helm coordinating world effort.  

Much of what needs to be done to avoid infection and spread rests with each and every one of us.  

Transparency Solomon Islands believes that it is this information that must be communicated in media, face to face and in our advocacy be it the public, family, and friends. 

The authorities are doing what they can to address the bigger picture, stopping the virus from getting into the country and its spread as well as getting ready for any positive cases. 

Given that our health and medical system and services including hospitals are poorly resourced, Solomon Islands is grateful for what assistance is being provided to us, be it China or any other country. 

It should not be an opportunity to re-open discussion on the switch.  

That has been done and the onus is now on us to demand transparency from our own Executive Government going forward.

 A comparative analysis of what country does or does not do, criticism of them against each other helps no one, unwarranted and uncalled for. 

Social media, print, broadcast media, journalists and all of us must stop bringing into the discussion of the COVID – 19, as a discussion on China versus other countries. 

This is a very serious situation and more and more discussion and sharing should be on what we can do individually to protect ourselves and more importantly suggestions to our government of what needs improving in our health and medical infrastructures, human resources and level of capacity that this country needs to deal with any future pandemics for this will not be the last one.

What can we do to contribute to stopping the spread of COVID-19? From the findings of the countries that have COVID-19, the virus is spread through contact with droplets of infected fluid of someone infected, close contact with an infected person, contaminated surfaces, objects [desktops, clothes, telephones] and touching eyes, noses or mouth without washing hands.  

These countries also shared that older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions [diabetes, heart and lung diseases] are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill when infected, so all the things that we need to do to contribute to stopping this virus spreading are: [a]wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub,[b]Cover mouth, nose with a tissue or bent elbow when sneezing and coughing,[c]do not touch eye, mouth, nose with an unwashed hand, [d]keeping distance of 1-2 metre, [e] avoid contact with an infected person, [f]Avoid crowded places, social gathering, and [g]stay at home when sick, isolate and self-quarantine. 

These are things that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services should not be expected to do for us, but that we must and can do for ourselves to fight COVID – 19. Let us concentrate in giving out this information.

Whilst the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Immigration Departments, are working hard at looking after our border, restricting travel into the country, isolating and quarantining, testing, etc and China and Australia and other development partners are providing facilities, expertise and test kits etc, we the public have the biggest responsibility in preventing and stopping the spread of this virus if and when it gets in. Let us start now by practicing personal hygiene and healthy habits and fully utilise the information given to us by our diplomatic friends and development partners including the Inter-governmental agencies such as the World Health Organisation to look after ourselves.

To our Legislature, in relation to COVID – 19 Transparency Solomon Islands appeals to you to seriously consider the improvement of our medical and health services, facilities, capability and capacity and resourcing. 

This pandemic has exposed why you should be paying more attention to allocating adequate resources to the sector over and above schemes you have given yourselves to receive medical and healthcare outside of the country.

It is the people’s entrusted power that you are exercising.  Use it to make decisions that will provide them with improved and better health and medical care services as well as protect them from such pandemics such as COVID – 19. 

Stop using that entrusted power to award yourselves with the best there is overseas when you are sick. 

This pandemic should clearly alert you to the need and urgency of improving our healthcare and medical system to benefit you and the people you represent.

COVID-19 sending the whole world into shut-down mode, clearly showed that regardless of whether or not you are a politician, a fisherman, a gardener a pastor, etc, it is Number 9 for all of us if we become infected.  

This pandemic must convince you of the need to support the improvement of this sector to a health and medical care service that is good enough for you and for the people you represent. 

Stop awarding yourselves schemes that only benefit you and your families. Transparency Solomon Islands in relation to COVID-19 alerts you to the fallacy of the proposed amendment to Regulation 67 and the need to re-think this proposal.

Under the 2020 review of the Parliamentary Entitlement, Regulation is it proposed that Regulation 67 to be renumbered as Regulation 68 -Health and Medical Care Scheme currently under discussion by PEC. 

TSI quotes “Regulation 67 to be renumbered as Regulation 68 - Health and Medical Care Scheme -Regulation 67 is to be amended by inserting a new provision as follows: “There shall be a Health and Medical Care Scheme for Members of Parliament and their families (spouses and dependent children) with a reputable health care scheme approved by the Parliamentary Entitlement Commission in accordance with existing processes. 

Transparency Solomon Islands implores you the Legislatures to priorities the health and medical needs of the people of Solomon Islands and to not support this amendment.  

For pandemics like COVID – 19 you have nowhere else to go but to the National Referral Hospital No. 9. 

If they do not have the capacity, the facility and capability to look after you nor can this scheme.

Let us support our health and medical services team by looking after ourselves.