The National Medical Store (NMS), located along the Ranadi highway, may resemble a typical warehouse, however it is no ordinary warehouse, it is the central facility in Solomon Islands for all the lifesaving drugs and consumables, including vaccines, stored at their required temperatures, awaiting distribution across the country either to 2nd level medical stores in the provinces or directly to a health facility.
In essence, the NMS contributes directly to the quality of healthcare and services provided across the country. It is critical that the storage capacity, cooling system, and refrigerators are well maintained and available to the health system.
Recognizing its importance, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, through the World Bank funded Health System Project (COVID-19 Emergency Response), which includes broader health system strengthening investments, has made the expansion and refurbishment of the National Medical Store a top priority activity.
On Thursday a groundbreaking ceremony was held. At the event, Health Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil highlighted that one of the lessons learnt during the height of COVID-19 was the inadequate storage capacity of the National Medical Store. “During the emergency we received much needed medications, medicines, personal protective equipment e.t.c. from donors and partners but the immense amount of additional supplies flooded the NMS. We had to turn to other private warehouses for hire to cater for the influx of medical items with huge costs incurred.”
“The structure itself is old and needs renovation, the only major renovation done for the NMS since its establishment in 1998 was improvements to the drainage system to mitigate risk of flooding”, explained Mrs McNeil.
The Permanent Secretary said that currently the office space for its staff is also within the storage facility which reduces the storage capacity of the facility. “It is for these reasons that the Ministry has made the decision to prioritize the NMS extension and refurbishment.”
She also used the occasion to highlight that the completion of the project at NMS will make significant contributions towards the implementation of the National Health Strategic Plan (2022-2031) particularly Strategic Objective #2 that health systems and resources meet our needs and are responsibly managed.
“Health systems under this objective also cover our health facilities, that they remain adequate and up to standard to carry out their functions. This will be the case for our Medical Store once the new works are completed”, said Mrs McNeil.
Ms Annette Leith, World Bank Country Representative in Solomon Islands who also gave brief remarks at the event said that World Bank is pleased to see that work will now commence and that its completion and the broader MHMS-World Bank Health System Project investments will contribute towards increasing the country’s capacity and capabilities to better prepare for future health pandemics as well as overall health system strengthening.