BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
YESTERDAY saw the long-awaited ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) office space aimed at boosting local testing capacity to international standards.
The ground-breaking ceremony was made possible through the partnership between key government ministries, donor partners and the private sector.
Addressing the occasion, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Jeremiah Manele said the new office space is worth SBD$827,068 and will enable NPHL to have its very own office space for the first time.
“This office is fully funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework EIF ECAT project to enable NPHL in its capacity to carry out proper testing and analysis of the targeted agricultural products under the Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade (ECAT) Project. This is an important requirement to be able to export and ensuring general food safety for domestic consumption.
“We are aware that the NPHL staff have been using the Lab as an office space for the past couple of years and this has affected the country’s broader objective of ISO certification and accreditation mainly on the micro-biology area.
“In order to achieve ISO certification, one of the requirements is that NPHL staff will need to have their own office space.
“It is from this that the EIF ECAT project as part of its work plans has stepped in to assist the NPHL team.”
He thanked the EIF programme and its multilateral donor partners for the financial support through which they are able to systematically prioritise and intervene in selected agriproducts but more importantly looking at the gaps in the value chain of these products.
Minister of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Culwick Togamana said the ceremony marks another milestone of cooperation and working relationship between key Government ministries, donor partners and the private sector.
“On behalf of the Executive and Staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, I wish to extend our deepest appreciation to the Enhance Integrated Framework of the World Trade Organisation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for funding the Solomon Islands Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade project, which includes the improvement of the Ministry of Health’s NPHL facility and supply of basic laboratory equipment.
“The new office space will enable the NPHL to meet current ISO 17025 accommodation requirements, which will boost local testing capacity to international standards for the export of agricultural commodities such as Cassava and Taro,” Togamana said.
The ground breaking event was held yesterday at the National Public Health Laboratory premises, Solomon Islands National University.