WVSI EPI Project launch

Ministry of Health & Medical Services partner to expand the immunization programme for Solomon Islanders

News Release: Ministry of Health & Medical Services partner to expand the immunization programme for Solomon Islanders

On 13th October 2020, the Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MHMS) joined UNICEF and World Vision Solomon Islands for the official nationwide launch of the Expanded Programme on Immunization Project at Marau station, east weather-coast of Guadalcanal.

The two-year project aims to raise awareness about the health benefits of child immunization to trigger community demand for immunization, leading to increased coverage rates across the country. The project supports one of MHMS’s highest priorities within the 2016-2020 National Strategic Plan to increase access to and utilisation of health services for Solomon Islanders.

Speaking during the launch, World Vision Program Quality and Resource Development Manager, Simon Daly says that the National Ministry of Health together with Provincial Governments, UNICEF and World Vision are committed to working closely with all target communities to ensure children and households are properly vaccinated and protected from disease and have a strong foundation for healthy growth. “We know that immunization coverage in the Solomon Islands is a challenge for many reasons. Health staff, communities and partners often must overcome unpredictable weather such as rough seas and storms; complex logistics challenges; and difficulties in sharing health information in order to get vaccines to many remote and vulnerable communities.” Currently, the Ministry of Health’s National Health Strategic Plan lists Immunization as a top strategic priority intervention, noting that immunization is vital for a healthy family and a healthy community. “This project will work nationwide to raise awareness with community members on the health benefits of immunizations; raise community demand for immunizations and increase immunization coverage rates across the country,” he added.

With an estimated population of more than 680,000 inhabitants across 977 islands, the natural geographic context of the country continues to pose a big challenge for general access to health service and coverage.  

According to a recent Ministry of Health report, only 73% of children under 5 years have been admitted to clinics. Only 38% of children with diarrhoea, were estimated to have received oral rehydration salt, as per a 2017 situation analysis. The percentage is well below average as compared to other pacific island countries.

To overcome these challenges, World Vision Solomon Islands and UNICEF, in consultation with MHMS, aim to achieve increased community knowledge about child immunization benefits through the engagement of community leaders and groups, health workers, and civil society organizations in immunization interventions.

The approach includes ensuring health workers conduct outreach immunization campaigns in their catchment areas through advocating and disseminating information on the importance of immunization. At the same time, health partners and MHMS coordinate the implementation of clear National Awareness raising and social mobilization campaigns at all levels to achieve maximum and cost-effective impact.

Director of Guadalcanal Provincial Health Office, Dr Joel Denty says that the first 5 years of a child’s life is the most crucial and one of the current issues at the community level is the knowledge and attitude of parents regarding the importance of immunization has not been addressed. “For so long communities have been spectators to the health system in our country. In this project, we are moving the community from a spectator to a player,” he said

As the implementing partner, working alongside communities and health workers, World Vision is set to engage 20 area health centres and 38 catchment communities across its active area programmes of Guadalcanal (weather-coast), Malaita, Makira and including the Central Islands.

For more information on the Expanded Program on Immunization Project, please contact: Simon Daly, World Vision Solomon Islands Program Quality / Resource Development Manager; email: Simon_Daly@wvi.org