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Fighting COVID-19 in Solomon Islands

06 April 2020, Action for Change

We’re working to help protect the Solomon Islands from COVID-19

The Solomon Islands is amongst a number of Pacific nations where the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a significant threat to the community. Save the Children is already on the ground, adapting and expanding existing programs to help prepare and protect communities with the provision of information, practical demonstrations of effective handwashing techniques and with the supply of soap and other resources necessary to ensure good hygiene.

The health systems in most Pacific nations are grossly under-resourced and will struggle to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19. The effects of a widespread outbreak on vulnerable communities in the Pacific, and especially children, could be cataclysmic.

Mat Tinkler, Deputy CEO, Save the Children

Spreading the word on stopping the spread 

In Solomon Islands, Save the Children is working closely with Health Promotion Units in Guadalcanal, Malaita, Choiseul and Western Province to ensure that key messages about COVID-19 reach children and their families in rural areas.  

The government is acting on international medical advice to promote personal hygiene as a key measure to prevent the introduction and spread of the disease. Save the Children is moving quickly to take advantage of our relationships with more than 60 communities to ensure this message is received loud and clear. 

We are continuing to arrange for Health Promotion Officers to travel to communities to speak with children and caregivers about the virus and how to protect themselves.  We are also helping to distribute government information posters and pamphlets right across our network. 

Parents from Tabuariki community with their COVID-19 awareness materials.

We are so grateful to Save the Children for organising this awareness activity for our community. The information has helped to relieve some of the fear and confusion that our people have had about this virus.

Mr William Take, chairman of the Titiana Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre committee

Earlier program work is now paying off 

Considering the vital importance of effective handwashing in the fight against COVID-19,  Save the Children is increasing existing efforts to educate children and caregivers about this life-saving practice. This work is paying off. During a recent trip to Papangu community in Guadalcanal, staff learned that the community had already gathered many empty mineral water bottles as part of a plan to extend ‘tippy tap’ handwashing stations to all households in the village.  

A ‘tippy tap’ station is a simple, yet effective handwashing device built with locally sourced materials. Typically, it is a water container, such as a 5-litre container or water bottle, suspended by a rope between two sticks, making it easy to manually pour water to wash and rinse your hands.  

Mr Leonard Kilua, Vice Chairman of the ECD centre in Papangu explained that the committee made this move because they recalled previous information provided by Save the Children during the 2014 flood response and in the promotion of health and hygiene for young children as part of ongoing ECD work. He said, “We have remembered the message that practicing good personal hygiene, particularly handwashing, is even more important during times of emergency and disaster because individuals are more vulnerable to illness and death from disease”. 

Ms Florence Qazakamana, Principal of Sassamugga Community High School confirmed that the program is proving to be effective in getting the hygiene and handwashing message through to students. “Our students are now aware of the simple steps that they can take to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus”, she said. 

Save the Children has been working in the Pacific for decades and is doing all it can to help communities in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea prepare for the COVID-19 virus, including by promoting hand washing and hygiene, and distributing soap and hand sanitiser.

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