Dr Shin signs new agreement with the Solomon Islands

The WHO Regional Director and Solomon Islands' Minister of Health show the agreement that paves the way to elevate the WHO Country Office to a WHO Representative Office.

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo has signed a new Basic Agreement between the World Health Organization and the Government of Solomon Islands for the Establishment of Cooperation, paving the way to elevate the WHO Country Liaison Office (CLO) there to a WHO Representative (WR) office.

Minister of Health and Medical Services Charles Sigoto witnessed the signing of the agreement on 22 May 2012 at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, as did WPRO Director of Programme Management Dr Hans Troedsson and WPRO Director for Administration and Finance Jeffery Kobza. Minister of Foreign Affairs Clay Forau earlier signed the agreement in Solomon Islands.

Over the past three years, the WHO country liaison office in Solomon Islands has undergone a rapid expansion in terms of health programmes and personnel, reflecting the increased interest in the country by development partners, such as the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the World Bank.

Solomon Islands is a high-burden country for malaria. However, with substantial financial support from The Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as AusAID, the country is showing signs of moving towards a significant reduction in cases, and some provinces are slated for elimination.

Both the Government and development partners recognize the significant contribution of WHO and have developed their ongoing proposals of support with the provision that WHO maintains a strong presence and performance at country level.

In light of these encouraging achievements and the progress made, and considering the high expectations by the Government and key partners of WHO's future role and performance in Solomon Islands, Dr Shin has explored the possibility to upgrade the existing country liaison office to a WHO country office led by a WHO Representative. The new agreement would establish the legal and administrative basis for such an upgrade and replace the old agreement that had been in place since 1979.

Also present at the ceremony were Dr Lester Ross, Permanent Secretary for Health; Dr Chris Becha, Undersecretary Policy and Planning; and Mr George Pego, Deputy Director for Nursing. They were accompanied by Moses Mose Kouni, Ambassador to Solomon Islands Permanent Mission in Geneva.