SO it had been announced that US Navy Hospital Ship ‘Mercy’ will return to our shores come November 19 when the 2023 Pacific Games will commence.
This is made possible thanks to the understanding of the US Government for allowing this floating hospital to arrive and support the country host this biggest regional games.
In the history of Pacific Games, there was never a time US had offered to provide health support through such arrangement during any such sporting event.
Thus, its something to be pleased with because should there be any emergency health issues affecting our regional athletes there will be top medical professionals on standby to provide much needed support throughout the duration of the two week sporting showdown.
Not only that but the presence of the boat will also help to boost security at the Games because no doubt US military personell will also be visible in our city during that time.
The positive response which was formally conveyed to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare by United States’ National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo- Pacific and Deputy Secretary to President Biden, Dr. Kurt Campbell should be commended.
PM Sogavare issued the request last August when Mercy made its inaugural visit.
The availability of Mercy means our health ministry and the organisers of the Games can get some comfort from this news because this floating hospital will be on standby to provide health services to the 24 countries that will converge into Honiara to participate in the 2023 Pacific Games.
Prime Minister Sogavare has acknowledged US for confirming the availability of Mercy for the games from November 19 to December 2, 2023.
During the meeting a number of important issues were discussed.
These included the; opening of the US embassy here in Honiara which is a sign of commitment by US to strengthen its partnership and relations with Solomon Islands, the need for US to invest in transformative projects particularly in infrastructure and renewable energy to drive economic growth and prosperity, the need for US to take active stand to rebut or deny media publications that have implied US’s involvement in internal affairs of the country, the issue of Unexploded Ordnance or UXO expressing the need for US to assist in removing the UXOs both on land and in specified areas in the sea, availing more scholarships for Solomon Islanders, partnership between SINU and US education institutions, easing visa requirements between the two countries and the resumption of the Peace Corp program.
Leader of Opposition Hon. Matthew Wale has also welcomed the US’ desire to respond more effectively to the needs of Solomon Islanders through a number of cooperation.
He acknowledged that this posture of working together with everyday Solomon Islanders is one that the nation needs.
This week’s visit by Dr. Kurt Campbell was his second. His first visit was immediately after Solomon Islands and Peoples’ Republic of China signed the security agreement.
Thus, it’s good to see US now showing interest in the country and to support the affairs of Solomon Islands.