A PROJECT which focuses on improving health service delivery for mothers, children and youths through upgrading infrastructure, equipment and staff training for Guadalcanal province has been officially launched on Friday.
Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Guadalcanal Provincial Health Authority officially unveiled this ambitious new health project at an event at Good Samaritan Hospital, Tetere, Guadalcanal Plains.
The project was made possible with support from World Health Organization (WHO) and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The project, entitled “Strengthening the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Service Delivery Capacity in Guadalcanal Province, Solomon Islands” is being implemented over 4 years by WHO, through assistance from KOICA to the value of 5.4 Million US Dollars.
A joint statement the Ministry and WHO said, “the project focuses on improving health service delivery for mothers, children and youths through upgrading infrastructure, equipment and staff training.”
Charles Sigoto, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Health and Medical Services, made the keynote address at the event.
“We fully support the Ministry of Health in its efforts to strengthen partnerships and build sustainable reforms that will set Solomon Islands on the path to better health outcomes,” he said.
“The Committee believes that the growth and prosperity of our country depends on looking after the health of our women and children.”
Dr. Sevil Huseynova, WHO Representative to the Solomon Islands said the WHO mandate is to assist governments in strengthening health services, with the aim of achieving the highest possible levels of health for everyone.
“We are keenly aware that the only way to achieve this goal is through strong partnerships and so we are thrilled to be working with our partners KOICA, the Ministry of Health and the Guadalcanal Provincial Health Authority on this important project.”
Dr. Huseynova explained that the project has three key dimensions. “Firstly, we are utilizing funds to support Provincial planning mechanisms. We are working closely with the Provincial Director and his team to identify the needs of the Province in terms of health infrastructure, human resources, equipment and commodities.”
Long-term planning will be underpinned by research. The project team has undertaken a comprehensive survey of all the health facilities in the Province, in order to identify the gaps in health service delivery at each facility.
As a result, three Area Health Centres have been selected for upgrade. This will provide approximately 32,000 residents from the Tangarare, Aola and Avuavu catchment areas with better access to services, like antenatal careWith improved diagnostic equipment, safe and clean birth delivery rooms, and immunization and child healthcare commodities. It will help to improve the facilities’ power, water and sanitation needs, which will make it easier for quality health services to be delivered.
Another study is underway through the Solomon Islands National University, which examines knowledge, attitudes and practices of communities about Maternal and Child Health-care services. “This information will help to tailor our support to the areas that need it most,” said Dr. Huseynova.
The second aspect of the project involves the procurement of equipment, such as solar-powered vaccine fridges and cold chain transport boxes which will ensure that medicines and vaccines remain safe and effective. “This is a crucial step,” said Dr. Huseynova. “It ensures that all facilities have everything they need to provide the best quality health care to patients.”
With the procurement of new equipment will come staff training on how to use this equipment to deliver high quality health care interventions.
Finally, the project aims to strengthen partnerships in several areas such as engagement between the health service and communities, teamwork between partners, and coordination between partners and government.
The project is a springboard for a larger scale health reform: the Role Delineation Policy (RDP), which is currently being finalized and will be presented to Parliament in the coming months. The RDP aims to improve the range and quality of health services available at Area Health Centres and Rural Health Centres.
“This means that better health services will be available to all Solomon Islanders, not only those who live in the main urban centers,” said Dr. Tenneth Dalipanda, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
But Dr. Dalipanda warned that this reform must be carried out with careful planning and support, so that the provincial authorities and health facilities are ready to meet greater demand. “And that is what this project that we are launching today is doing,” he said. “It is upgrading facilities, training staff and strengthening processes, which begins to equip Guadalcanal province with the capacity to take a more central role in the planning and delivery of health services.”
As part of the launch, the Ministry of Health and the WHO handed key equipment over to the Guadalcanal Provincial Health Authority, including 26 solar-powered vaccine fridge freezers, 42 immunization transport boxes, 100 temperature recorders, 18 solar panels and one 4WD vehicle.