Foreign direct aid to SI delivering tangible outcomes

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DEAR EDITOR, over the weekend I was gratified to read from a press release issued by the OPMC that medical drug supplies have started to arrive at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and deliveries made to several Honiara Medical Clinics.

It was good to read too that the SIG had offered to help neighbouring Papua New Guinea (PNG)with stocks of medical drugs and supplies as PNG, also, has been undergoing a similar problem with shortages of essential drugs and medical supplies.

According to a news item broadcast by Radio New Zealand last week, Daru General Hospital in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province was on the verge of shutting down due to a critical shortage of medical supplies.

The hospital serves a province of over 200,000 people, where the capital Daru has a high number of people with tuberculosis.

The governments of Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of China (Taiwan) have all been instrumental in helping the SIG overcome the recent shortages by offering supplies and with transportation of essentials and are thanked for such timely assistance.

In the course of looking at what I tend to term ‘direct aid’ I noted a statement to the media issued by the Acting Australian High Commissioner in Honiara last week

In that statement the acting High Commissioner wrote, in part, “The Australian Government is committed to supporting the Solomon Islands Government to deliver health services to the people of Solomon Islands.

“Australia will provide up to AUD47.8 million as direct budget support to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services over the period 2016 – 2020 to support the delivery of health services including the purchase of drugs and medical supplies. The Solomon Islands Government is responsible for the administration of these funds.”

The Australian Government also has a somewhat different form of Direct Aid Program which is a flexible small grants program funded by Australia’s aid budget, aimed at supporting small scale development projects with tangible outcomes.

Areas for DAP support cover community health, education, sport, rural development, capacity building, governance, human rights, gender equity, indigenous, youth, environment, agriculture, disaster relief and small scale infrastructure.

An example of DAP support in very recent years was the provision of AU$17,000 for kitchen equipment and training to the Solomon Islands Red Cross Special Development Centre.

Examples of direct aid having tangible outcomes received from the Republic of China (Taiwan) in most recent months, I would cite as having including practical farming advice and nutritional educational training and a specialist medical team’s visit to the rural communities in Malaita.

The promised gift of US$1 million for a solar power project to benefit the Solomon National University and the promised aid to the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment and Meteorology and the National Department of Disaster Management will also result in tangible benefits when fully delivered.

New Zealand’s aid program to the Solomon Islands is helping to reach sustainable growth, improve the quality of education and make communities safer.

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

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