The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) with funding support from the World Bank under the health systems strengthening component of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project is ready to kick off renovation and upgrade work of Tulagi Hospital in the Central Islands Province (CIP) which will also include installation of the hospital’s new incinerator.
Tulagi hospital is amongst several other health facilities across the country marked for renovations and upgrades under this health system strengthening project.
Like the team (MHMS & WB) did last week, visiting project sites in Munda and Noro, Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Health Permanent Secretary led the team to Tulagi this week. There, they met with the CIP Premier and officials followed by a site visit to the hospital and the site for installation of the incinerator.
The visit offered perfect opportunities for the team to observe the hospital, listen to concerns and experiences of staff and patients as well as share with the Provincial Executive and officials what will be done under the project.
Following a briefing, the CIP Premier Hon. Polycarp Galaigu thanked the Ministry of Health and the World Bank for also selecting Tulagi hospital for support under the project. He assured of his government’s support and expressed their willingness to cooperate in areas where they are needed.
Whilst at the hospital, CIP Health Director Dr. Leslie Bunabo said that deteriorating status of the hospital facilities is increasingly becoming a problem. This has led to closure of some of the important services that the hospital used to have such as laboratory and x-ray.
“Over the years the hospital has not only deteriorated in the status of its structure but also services and has led to many people opting to seek medical care and services at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara”, explained Dr Bunabo.
He said the initiative to renovate and restore some of the services that previously existed including new ones will greatly encourage people in Central Province to seek health care here which should be the case.
“Unfortunately, many are traveling across the sea to NRH which is often risky in times of bad weather but more concerningly this adds more pressure to NRH that is already occupied with accommodating many from all over the country.
“Safe disposal of medical waste has also been a long-standing problem for the hospital due to lack of an incinerator. The open dumpsite currently being used poses great risks to the health of our people and negatively impacts the environment including the sea resources and fish which the people also depend on for their survival”, explained the Health Director.
Dr Bunao said that the improvement of Tulagi hospital and installation of its new incinerator will greatly enable the much-needed health services to be provided much closer to the people. “Thank you, Ministry of Health, and thank you indeed to World Bank for the funding support”, said the CIP Health Director.
Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. McNeil during the courtesy visit to the CIP Premier thanked the provincial government for their support throughout COVID-19 response whilst stating the need for continued cooperation in the health sector improving health services.
She explained that the work to improve Tulagi hospital and its services is part of the overall efforts of the Ministry to implement its Role Delineation Policy with the goal of bringing closer to the people’s health care and services. “We’ve heard stories of pregnant mothers opting to give birth at NRH and thus have had to cross the sea to Honiara, it is not only risky but costs a lot of money for the family. That is the very situation that the RDP works to prevent. So, our people can easily access services closer to them without any financial burdens and hardships as well as emotional stress in seeking health services”.
She said that much of the work in terms of assessment and preparations has already been completed with only a few more tasks to be done before actual construction work on the ground is executed.
World Bank Solomon Islands Health Specialist, Dr. Wayne J. Irava and World Bank Senior Health Economist, based in Washington D.C Headquarters United States Mr. Netsanet Workie both thanked CIP Provincial Government and the Tulagi hospital management and staff for the warm welcome and highlighted WB is here to support.
“This support is yours for you to take ownership of, meaning to take care of it and ensure that it continues to remain functional to serve the health needs of your children, families, communities in the province”, said. Mr. Workie, WB Health Economist based in Washington D.C United States.
Dr. Howard Sobel World Health Organization Country Representative, who also joined the visit to Tulagi hospital also expressed appreciation to the tremendous work of the provincial government and provincial health team during the COVID-19 community transmission and encouraged that preparations for future pandemics and any unprecedented events such as COVID-19