As part of the government’s efforts to ensure that it remains on track with its redirection policy and implementation of associated activities with line ministries, the Coordination and Monitoring Cabinet Committee (CMCC) convened a meeting on 18 May with the Ministry of Health officials led by the Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil.
At the meeting CMCC was furnished with updates on the COVID-19 situation, health’s ongoing responses, current status of the National Referral Hospital including vaccination roll out coverage and challenges and capacities with coordination at national and provincial level.
Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil delivered the update and together with Dr Nemia Bainivalu the National Health Emergency Operation Centre, Incident Controller, Dr George Malefoasi Chief Executive Officer of the National Referral Hospital, Mr. Ivan Ghemu Director Policy and Planning and health’s Senior Advisor Dr Yogesh Choudhri.
The committee was pleased to note improvements with the COVID-19 situation with declining number of cases, hospitalization and deaths at NRH and the provinces, however, it notes that continued detection of positive cases still remains a concern thus the committee appreciates current health efforts to prevent entry of new COVID-19 variants and current testing activities to mitigate further spread amongst the population.
The meeting discussed and acknowledge the need to speed up 90 percent of the vaccine eligible population and booster dose for those eligible as an important pre-requisite to ensuring the population health’s is preserved and loss of lives avoided once border reopens. The Committee also advised on urgency of roll out of vaccine for children 12 to below 18 years of age and enquired on vaccination for children 5 to 12 years old. Health informed that it is working to push out the Pfizer vaccines for children to the provinces and working with partners to secure additional Pfizer vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old.
The committee also note some of the challenges raised by health with the current coordination response structure and capacities at national and provincial level and takes notes of the recommendations put forward by the health.
One of the recommendations is the need to pass the Public Health Emergency as the legislation will empower health sector to deal more effectively and efficiently with the future pandemics. Amongst other regulatory measures for control, it will also enable the establishment of the “Solomon Islands Center for Disease Prevention and Control” which will be an important institution for the country.
The Committee has urged the Ministry of Health and Attorney General’s Chamber to formalize the bill to parliament and assured of its continued support where needed.
CMCC has been conducting similar enquiries with other line ministries and the platform has provided opportunities for much closer engagements between implementing ministries and the Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding policy matters and relevant interventions.