New unit to manage health COVID funds

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Standing: PS Health Pauline McNeil and World Bank Health Specialist/Economist Wayne j. Irava. Sitting from left, Newly recruited staff of the MHMS PMU Phillipe Bukah, Financial Management Officer, Unity Kofana, Procurement Officer, Louisa Fakaia Project Manager & Jahreth Limarii Environment, Social, Health Safety and Community Engagement Officer.
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THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) says it has established its Project Management Unit (PMU).

This unit, the ministry added, will start the implementation of the $40 million COVID-19 Emergency Response Project that was announced at the end of 2020.

“PMU will coordinate the overall implementation of the project and the management of its resources to ensure that the project development objectives are achieved in time and with quality,” a statement from the ministry said.

“With the completion of the office set up and key staff recruited, a welcome ceremony coinciding with launch of the unit was held today at the Ministry of Health’s headquarters where the newly recruited staff got the chance to meet with MHMS Senior Executive Management (SEM) and MHMS corporate staff including World Bank representatives,” it added.

Permanent Secretary McNeil at the event highlighted the importance of the unit.

“With increased donor funding towards our ongoing COVID-19 preparedness and response, the coordination, management and utilization of these funds is a challenge as the number of staff, which includes those of planning, finance, procurement etc. remained the same as pre COVID.

“Therefore, having this unit will greatly enable the ministry to properly coordinate and effectively utilize the funds for timely implementation of the project.

“More importantly, with the substantial amount of the project funds, the MHMS requires a dedicated team to provide the coordination, management, and tracking progress of the project’s deliverables.

“Having a Project management at the Ministry of Health is critical in ensuring timely implementation and execution of key MHMS projects and development.

“I am hoping that we can learn as much from this setup so that we can replicate for key strategic projects including the NRH Improvement and Development and other provincial projects.

“That said, I wish to express sincere thanks to World Bank for the support rendered which will greatly enhance our capacity and capability to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and more importantly continue to enhance health systems across the country.”

Meanwhile, McNeil encouraged the PMU team to strive for excellence as the set-up is first of its kind and therefore can be used to demonstrate how we can better manage, utilize and report on donor funding’s received.

The Health Permanent Secretary also acknowledged the support from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, who provided significant inputs into the initial negotiations with the bank that led to the funding support.

Wayne Irava, Health Specialist and Economist, from the World Bank who also attended the launch said that World Bank is very pleased to be supporting the ministry in its response and preparedness efforts towards the pandemic but also contributing towards strengthening the health system.

“Therefore, while this COVID-19 presents us with many challenges it has also offered us opportunities to partner, cooperate and collaborate with each other and in this case, partnership between World Bank and the Solomon Island Ministry of Health,” Irava said.

“We can all appreciate that this is a new project and the success of it all very much lies in our commitment and dedication towards the project.

“Thus, I wish the Ministry the very best with the new PMU unit now established and we are here to work alongside and support you,” Irava stated.

The PMU launch also include brief description and outline of the Project by the Project Manager Louisa Fakaia, who also assured of the unit’s commitment and determination towards the achieving expected outcomes set out in the project’s work plan.

The $40 million COVID-19 Emergency Response Project comprised of three key components.

First is the Emergency COVID-19 Preparedness and Response, which is to provide immediate support to implement prevention, preparedness and emergency response activities for COVID-19 across all levels of health facilities across the provinces.

Second is health system strengthening aimed at supporting health systems strengthening activities to ensure continuity of delivery of critical health services and to cope with the surge in demand for care posed by COVID-19.

Third component is Project Implementation and Management Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) which will support management and M&E of project activities and outputs.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2023.


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