The World Bank has increased its funding to Solomon Islands to help roll out the COVID-19 vaccine there, as the country grapples with its low immunization rate.
Growing by US$8 million (AU$11.25 million), the organization’s funding for the Pacific nation now stands at US$13 million (AU$18.28 million).
“We are proud to commit more resources to Solomon Islands’ response to COVID-19, while expanding our support to ensure disruptions to health services are kept to a minimum. Importantly, this assistance will support greater access to life-saving vaccines, while raising awareness – and combating misinformation – about vaccines,” said World Bank Resident Representative for Solomon Islands, Annette Leith.
The funds are intended for measures such as more protective equipment for healthcare workers, contact tracing and improving access to vaccines.
According to Our World in Data21.08% of the Solomon Islands population has been fully vaccinated, with 40.25% partially vaccinated, as of 2 May. Internationally, 15.7% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Solomon Islands Finance and Treasury Minister Harry Kuma welcomed the funds.
“We are delighted that the support includes more funds to upgrade quarantine facilities, improvements to the national medical storage facility and waste management, and additional support for training and infection control among staff. of the Department of Health and Medical Services,” the minister said.
Australia has already sent assistance to the Solomon Islands to help it in its management of the pandemic, as at the beginning of the year by sending a specialized medical team and medical supplies.
More recently, tensions have escalated between Australia and the Solomon Islands following the latter’s signature of a security pact with China. The pact has been described as a “massive diplomatic failure‘.
Solomon Islands-China security deal boosts ministerial visit