Testing for covid-19 to start in Vanuatu
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 15 May 2020
“Vanuatu can now carry out testing for Covid-19 after the arrival of hundreds of test kits in the country.
“The Director of Public Health, Doctor Len Tarivonda, said that until now Vanuatu had been sending blood samples to Australia for testing, which was a lengthy process.
“He said Vanuatu had ordered 8,400 test kits, with the first 220 due to arrive in Port Vila today.
"The covid-19 tests that will be arriving in Port Vila from Brisbane via an Australian Defence Force plane.
"These tests have been funded by New Zealand and Australia, and organised by the WHO (World Health Organisation) and the SPC (the Pacific Community) to bring them here to the country."
Copyright @ 2020, Radio New Zealand.
15 May 2020
Solomon Islands: A call for a refocus in the country’s development strategy with the emphasis on the rural village communities.
Speaking at the launch of the CBSI 2019 Annual Report this week, Dr.Luke Forau, the Central Bank Governor said there needed to be a refocus in the country’s development strategy and he believed the time is right to do it.
Dr Forau reportedly said, “Again, in this pandemic. the village was used as an insurance, people were sent home for safety and I am very certain that the next economic crisis in the future, people will travel back to the village.”
“After 40 years of self-chartering our economic destiny as a country we are still no way near to an economy that can economically sustain its people.”
“The Solomon Islands needs an alternative development path with alternative transmission channel(s) these ideas are not new, but requires champions to initiate the process,” he said.
From Dr Forau’s comments one is mindful of past government’s policy relating to so called rural growth centres and the ‘bottom-up approach ‘initiatives which never really materialised.
On the broader economic front, Dr Forau said the outlook for the Solomon Islands economy this year is quite bleak.
He said although Solomon Islands is still COVID-19 free, the impact of the preparedness against the pandemic on the economy, has taken a toll on the country’s projected growth for this year.
As a result for 2020, economic growth is projected to contract to around minus 5%.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Forau said the country’s external and domestic environments will continue to be affected by the health containment measures and the weak consumer demand.
He pointed out that sectors that have already been affected, and will continue to be affected significantly, include tourism; transport, wholesale & retail, manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry.
He said the economy will go into recession during the second quarter of this year.
“Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of the COVID-19, let alone our continuous preparedness and containment measures, will continue to have a negative impact on the economy.
“However, over the medium term, growth is expected to return to an average rate of 3.5%, as key infrastructure and development projects are implemented,” he claimed.
Source: Solomon Star News.
14 May 2020
Non communicable Disease has resulted in 49 deaths and 393 cases at the NRH since the start of 2020
The Solomon Islands remains free from coronavirus so far, and thankfully so, but one needs to be mindful that Non-communicable Disease (NCD) is also deadly.
Since the start of this year there have been 49 deaths and 393 NCD cases at the National Referral Hospital.
Peter Zoleveke writing in the Islands Sun newspaper yesterday had this to say, quote.
“While the Solomon Islands is in a state of emergency as a pre-emptive measure against Covid-19, the alarming rise of Non-communicable Disease (NCD) has gone unnoticed throughout the first quarter of the year - prompts local medical experts to encourage physical sporting activities while practicing social distancing.
“Senior Consultant Physician, Dr Jones Ghabu in an interview stressed the preventive approach against the common diseases.
“We are encouraging people to be physically active. Being physically active is one of the measures to prevent, control or reverse NCDs,” Dr Ghabu urged.
“According to a recent NRH Medical Ward admission report, there are 393 NCD cases with 49 deaths, since the start of this year.
“The country is having an increasing 95 % number of NCDs at the moment due to two things; lack of adequate physical activities and eating unhealthy food,” Dr Ghabu stressed.
“NCD is reversible adopting a healthy lifestyle.”
14 May 2020
Reflections on societal attitudes towards health, with an eye to compassion, and aspects of the law
Writing about the Solomon Islands, as I have for many years, my desire as been to try and be helpful and I am not a journalist, a science administrator, certainly not a policy advocate or maker, but perhaps an ethicist of a kind.
My story today is in line with being an ethicist but I feel compelled to raise concerns about societal attitudes which I find disturbing in the context of public health and road safety. Both subjects one can judge to border on issues of policy.
We learned today that there has been a 95 percent increase in Non-communicable Diseases, and 45 deaths, at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) since the start of this year.
I find the statistics alarming since NCD’s are brought on by an improper diet, lack of exercise and lifestyle habits that combine to hasten life-threatening diseases involving diabetes, heart conditions, stoke, high blood pressure, liver infections, respiratory problems and cancer, including stomach cancer, lung cancer , mouth cancer and esophagus cancer.
Societal habits and lifestyles are difficult to change, and even modify, but change must be induced if the rate of NCD’s are to be radically reduced.
How such a change can be induced is very much up to the individual but the government could help by legislating, if not already, to stop the importation of food and drink products containing harmful contents containing too much unwanted fat and sugar. More emphasis by the MOHMS on preventive medicine could be done and on a permanent basis, starting in schools and colleges.
When it comes to road safety, I am aware that the rate of traffic offences, especially cases of drunk driving, have significantly increased in Honiara in recent months and despite, as reported, tough sentences having been imposed on those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Perhaps, the time has come for the courts to impose mandatory lengthy jail terms for such breaches of the Road Traffic Act.
The consumption of kwaso undoubtedly contributes to both NCD’s and driving under the influence offences and one might question whether enough is being done to enforce the law on illegal home brew, including whether the sentences imposed on those convicted of making and selling kwaso are stringent and binding enough.
As an ethicist, I end this piece in mentioning compassion – compassion for those in need and I praise the work of the Christian Care Centre for the work that is continuing to give shelter and support to those women and girls that have sought refuge from domestic violence.
Compassion is needed too for all those patients and ex-patients of the NRH that have had a limb removed by surgery following diabetes. The numbers now exceed 400.
I wrote yesterday saying the Solomon Ports had acquired some 80 portable buildings to house personnel in the event of coronavirus reaching the Solomons. One such structure could see the NRH with a purpose built workshop to start re-making prosthetics and help with the rehabilitation of the 400 awaiting help.
Following that letter one correspondent wrote to me sighting “political will.” I would argue compassion and caring needs to be greater parts of political will.
I also believe the Solomon Ports management is compassionate and one has witnessed Solomon Ports give generous help to various communities and especially in Choiseul Province of late.
On that note I would urge the Medical Superintendent of the NRH, Dr.John Hue, to ask if the Solomon Ports could kindly donate one sizable pre-fab building to be used as a workshop for the purposes I have outlined.
Australia pledges more to help to Vanuatu for twin crises
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 14 May 2020
“Australia has pledged around 15 million US dollars (Vt1.7 billion) for Vanuatu towards preparedness for covid-19 and recovery from the impact of Cyclone Harold.
“Vanuatu's Prime Minister Bob Loughman confirmed the assistance from his country's closest donor partner after a meeting with Australian High Commissioner Sarah deZoeten.
“The High Commissioner said Australians had been touched by the response of the government and people of Vanuatu during the recent bush fires in Australia.
“While Vanuatu is yet to register a confirmed case of coronavirus, it is feeling the impacts of the shock from covid-19 on its economy as it also struggles to recover from the devastation of Harold a category 5 storm when it hit the country in early April.”
Copyright @ 2020, Radio New Zealand.