Japan and UNICEF deliver 14 speedboats to strengthen health services in Solomon Islands

The deputy. Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr Culwick Togamana and Japanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, HE MIWA Yoshiaki at the official handover.

This week, the Government of Japan, in partnership with UNICEF, officially handed over 14-speed boats to the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services to support the ministry in its efforts to speed up health services, in especially in the most remote areas.

Two 75-hp mercury-powered speedboats were also provided by the Government of Japan and UNICEF to the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The deputy. The Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr Culwick Togamana expressed his sincere gratitude to the government and people of Japan, as well as UNICEF, saying the support is the first of its kind and the ministry is very happy to see the boats deployed to start serving people in the provinces where the need for health services is greatest.

“The sparseness of our islands, separated by miles and miles of seawater, makes delivering health services across the country a very difficult task – not to mention high transportation costs. COVID-19 response efforts, deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, routine immunization programs, deployment of personnel, distribution of drugs and medical equipment as well as information gathering on the ground to Timely decisions and actions are all, one way or the other, affected in this regard,” said Hon. Dr. Culwick Togamana.

“It is also undeniable that, in our experiences, traveling by sea, in the scorching heat of the sun or in the rain and cold of rainy weather over long distances to access health services can be a nightmare. In many cases, the conditions of the transported patients worsen and in other cases lives have been lost.

“Therefore, the boats will enable the ministry to effectively and efficiently deliver health services to our population across the islands. In addition, the boats will comfortably and safely transport rapid referrals and emergency cases to healthcare facilities.

“Thank you to the Government of Japan for funding the boats and to UNICEF for initiating the procurement process for the delivery of these valuable assets. This is another important step in our ongoing efforts to improve health services for our people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he added.

The boats are equipped with two 75 horsepower mercury engines, two-way radios, GPS, searchlights for night trips and a canvas roof for protection against sunlight with a cargo capacity of 12 people sitting back to back on watertight boats. cushions. These can also be used for sick patients to lie down during transport.

The boats were initially intended to quickly transport COVID-19 patients from their communities or health facilities to provincial hospitals. In time, their purpose will transcend other vital opportunities, such as transporting emergency and referral cases to the provinces. The boats will also be used to boost the country’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program to accelerate coverage among other health projects.

This aid is now part of the Japanese government’s emergency grant of approximately $41 million to 25 countries in Southeast and Southwest Asia and Pacific island countries under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) initiated by former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo who passed away suddenly on July 8th.

FOIP is a vision composed of dimensions such as the promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, free trade, pursuit of economic prosperity, commitment to peace and stability.

“We are happy to have this handover ceremony. It was an unfortunate incident when our former Prime Minister, ABE, tragically passed away suddenly, however, we are happy that this aid falls under the humanitarian aid section of Japan’s foreign policy guidelines FOIP, which has been crowned of success as the cornerstone of our foreign policy.

“Japan wishes to continue to engage in strengthening Japan-Solomon relations and economic development cooperation projects in accordance with its belief,” said Japanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, HE MIWA Yoshiaki.

“We would appreciate if this assistance, with the sincere cooperation of UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, would be helpful in strengthening the response to COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands. We remain committed and dedicated to our friendship and partnership. We stand ready to provide support to Solomon Islands when and where assistance is needed,” he added.

UNICEF is continuously working with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in the fight against COVID-19 as well as to improve overall health services in the country. These include supporting the vital supply of COVID-19 vaccines, providing technical and financial resources for the roll-out of health services, including immunization, in the country, and ensuring that children and their families can access the health care they need in the same way.

“UNICEF thanks the government and people of Japan for the strong partnership that has made it possible to reach isolated communities in the Solomon Islands with these lifeboats,” said UNICEF Solomon Islands Field Office Chief, Dr Zelalem Taffesse.

“About 75% of the children and their families live in rural communities that generally occupy the coastline of the more than 300 inhabited islands of the Solomon Islands. These are the people who lacked essential health services, including vaccination against COVID-19. UNICEF is proud to support the ministry in reaching these communities, which are otherwise the last to receive essential health services.

This funding is part of a larger Japanese project called Emergency Assistance for Cold Chain Improvement in South-East and South-West Asia and Pacific Island Countries Suffering from impact of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This grant amounts to approximately USD 41 million to 25 countries in Southeast and South West Asia and the Pacific (approximately USD 9 million to 10 Pacific island countries).

The 25 countries include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan , Sri Lanka, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Source: MHMS Media

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