26 May 2020
Solomon Islands: The importance and necessity of accurate information sharing.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ms Pauline McNeil, has said her ministry has identified “gaps” that will need strengthening should there be the necessity of future lockdowns as part of COVID -19 preventative measures.
Ms McNiel mentioned reviewing operational procedures, as well as refreshing training and guidelines.
She stressed the need for timely and effective information sharing.
I entirely agree with what the Permanent Secretary feels necessary to improve in terms of information sharing.
COVID-19 is a deadly, unseen disease that has spread rapidly through the world causing deaths and untold economic losses and naturally people are very concerned should the virus reach the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands government has put in a raft of emergency measures to keep COVID 19 away and so far with success. It is seen as vitally important that the people are away of the safety and health precaution measures that are in place and need to be fully complied with by all.
The issuing of some 10,000 health advisory and safety notices was seen as essential and the right move.
Without wanting to sound alarmist the better and more accurate information the public have, from proper sources such as the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the better informed the communities will be protected from COVID-19.
The ‘new normal’ which as seen restrictions of movement and the necessity of social distancing, as well as curfews and lockdown measures, all need to be properly explained to find acceptance and cooperation in keeping COVID-19 away.
Keep up the good work MHMS.
26 May 2020
Keeping the Solomon Islands free from COVID-19 and embracing new technology
Stranded Solomon Islanders are expected to be flown back home from Brisbane and Fiji this week and the government has put in place the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the arrivals will be immediately tested for COVID-19 on their arrival and then placed in quarantine for a full 28 days to prevent the possibility of coronavirus entering into the country.
There are no long-term advantages from the strict enforcement measures that have necessarily become part of life except to say I am pleased to see the government has embraced the utilisation of technology for video conferencing and meetings.
Since Solomon Islands wisely closed its borders, the emphasis has focused on the more practical, cost saving use of video conferencing.
With broadband the use of the internet has become faster and more reliable and it is hoped more and more Solomon Islanders will adapt and use the technological tools for business and for government work
I recently wrote about the prospect of online education services being made available to schools and colleges. Such services would have many advantages and I hope those development partners that have played a significant and meaningful role in supporting education in the Solomon Islands will consider the proposal I tendered.
Turning to the specific subject of video conferring, I’ll share with you some observations.
Seven advantages of video conferencing include:
- Saves time and money.
- No travelling required.
- Brings remote workers and telecommuters together.
- More personal and engaging than phone conferencing alone.
- Increased efficiency and productivity.
- Cuts down on carbon emissions.
- Improves relationships.
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in the Solomon Islands, the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks. Video conferencing can be a low-cost way to bring people together, increase productivity and save money.
SI Government Calls for Submissions for Economic Stimulus Support
Quoting the Solomon Times – 25 May 2020
“The call for submissions to access the economic stimulus package will be published starting today, and for the next two weeks.
“The Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare made this announcement in his weekly statement. He said the government has not lost sight of its responsibilities.
“Sogavare said the Government is fully aware of its responsibility to ensure fiscal stability and to counter negative growth within the domestic economy while also safeguarding the basic needs and livelihood of the general population.
“The stimulus package of SBD$319 Million with its implementation framework and guidelines will facilitate the disbursement of funding allocations”, Sogavare said.
“A committee made up of government officials and related agencies are working on the stimulus package.
“The committee is headed by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can apply for support as funding will be made available through the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI)”
Copyright @ 2020 Solomon Times.
25 May 2020
Solomon Islands: The National Referral Hospital (NRH) ready to begin testing for COVID-19
Earlier this month Australia and China each handed over to the National Referral Hospital a qPCR machine for the testing of COVID-19.
Following the completion of the Molecular Laboratory at the NRH the hospital now has the equipment and the means of carrying out COVID-19 tests locally.
Previously, the NRH and the MHMS depended entirely on the expertise of the Virology Laboratory in Australia for testing.
Testing will be routinely carried out on the citizens returning home after having been left stranded overseas. Testing will also be carried out after they complete their days in quarantine.
The front-liners who are working at the molecular lab, as well as those who handle suspected cases, will also undergo testing.
Testing results will be available in about five hours.
In a separate development, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has handed over additional equipment and suppliers from its previous support as part of equipping the quarantine centre at Henderson, the National Referral Hospital triage and isolation facilities as well as to support the refurbishment of the isolation centre in Auki and a new isolation facility n Gizo.
The equipment and supplies consisted of biomedical equipment and PPEs (such as N95 masks and gowns), oxygen concentrators, patient monitors, an ECG machines and other related ICU equipment for use in the Isolation ward for the treatment of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The WHO completed an in-depth laboratory assessment for the readiness of qPCR COVID-19 testing capacity at the NRH.
24 May 2020
Solomon Islands: Commercially grown peanuts for export?
Some months ago I wrote saying how I started a productive garden from scratch when overseeing the Santo Prison in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).
The produce from that garden was sufficient to supply the prisoners with the daily meals and enough produce was left over to sell to the local BP Store to and use the income to raise chickens, pigs and rabbits for food and for extra sales.
One easy crop to grow was peanuts (or groundnuts) and little attention was needed to get high yields.
I share this recollection because it occurs to me that peanuts might easily be grown in the Solomon Islands and the produce exported.
I do know that peanut consumption has grown at a rate exceeding 2.5 % since 2018 and the projected demand is expected to remain high.
China and India are large consumers of peanuts, accounting for more than 36% of global consumption.
The International Trade Centre recently said.
“Groundnuts, a staple food for many developing countries, deserves a closer look as an export commodity. Less than 6% of the world groundnut crop is traded internationally, with export sales averaging close to US$ 1 billion dollars per year. There is, therefore, scope for export growth in groundnuts.
“Investing in groundnuts is a sustainable way to address the rising needs for both food and foreign exchange. Today's exporters face two major challenges: ensuring food safety by preventing and controlling mycotoxin contamination of products and adapting groundnut supplies to demand for varieties best suited to specific end-uses.
“About 48% of the world output is for food uses and 52% is crushed, producing groundnut oil and cake. Consumption patterns vary widely from country to country. In the United States, a fifth of the crop is exported; 10% is crushed for oil; nearly 60% is directly used in the manufacture of food products. Argentina and South Africa, typical export-oriented groundnut producers, export 70-75% of their crop either as edible or oil nuts, or as processed groundnut oil and cake. In Viet Nam, groundnuts are cultivated in order to improve soil fertility, to break rice monoculture and to provide additional income to farmers through exports.”
In addition to noni fruit, cassava, taro, pineapples, kava, ginger, vanilla, cut flowers (orchids), tomatoes, salad crops, coconuts and banana (chips), all potential exports, why not consider peanuts grown commercially for export earnings?