Prime Minister (PM) Manasseh Sogavare has highlighted the need for the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to unite in addressing health and climate challenges facing the two countries.
Speaking at a dinner to welcome PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape on Thursday Mr. Sogavare said these challenges need collective efforts to address whether through established mechanisms or institutions such as our membership with the MSG, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth Secretariat or the United Nations.
“The impacts of climate change provide a daily reminder to us of our vulnerabilities. It also reminds us to the urgent need for major industrial nations to do more in meeting their global commitments to reduce greenhouse gases,” Sogavare said.
He further highlighted that non-communicable diseases (NCD) have evolved as the single largest killer of people in the Solomon Islands and also in Papua New Guinea.
Nearly 8 deaths out of every 10 deaths in Solomon Islands are due to non-communicable diseases. These deaths are largely preventable.
“We need to do more individually and together to help reverse the current NCD epidemic in our countries. We need to pull our people back from the jaws of death,” Sogavare said.
Both countries have signed up to the Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance target to eliminate malaria from by 2030.
“I am told that with the right level of political commitment, leadership and resources each of our countries can eliminate malaria even if not by 2030, but that it is achievable,” Sogavare added.
Sogavare also highlighted that the current coronavirus epidemic has again shown the region’s vulnerability to such epidemics.
“We lack diagnostic, quarantine and treatment capacity and facilities to address any incursion of such viruses to our shores. The challenge posed by such virus epidemics is so enormous, it requires a national as well as a multi-country approach to address them effectively,” he said.
Sogavare believed that these challenges in health and climate change would benefit from a collaborative approach between our two countries to address.
“I propose that we consider setting up a joint task team to explore further the possibility for a joint strategy between our two countries to address these priorities in health that are currently killing or have the potential to kill the people in our countries,” he said.
Sogavare said the two countries could learn from each other’s experiences including through sharing of information and technology to protect our borders and our people.