Opening Remarks of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the Opening Ceremony of the WHO Representative Office in Solomon Islands

Honiara
28 August 2012

HONOURABLE CHARLES SIGOTO,

HONOURABLE SETH GUKUNA ,

HEADS OF DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS,

PARTNERS IN HEALTH AND UNITED NATIONS AGENCIES,

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

I am pleased to be here with you for the opening of the World Health Organization Representative Office in Solomon Islands.

This office brings to 11 the number of Representative Offices in the Western Pacific Region.

WHO has a long history in Solomon Islands.

Way back in 1953 at the sixth World Health Assembly, Solomon Islands was assigned to the Western Pacific Region as an area. At that time, barely 100 000 people lived on these islands.

Then in 1979 Solomon Islands — whose population had grown to a quarter of a million people — became a self-governing, independent state within the British Commonwealth.

A WHO Country Liaison Officer was designated in March 1981. And in April 1983, the Solomon Islands joined WHO as a Member State.

The WHO liaison office in Solomon Islands was supervised by the WHO Representative in the South Pacific.

Over the past three years, however, the office has undergone a rapid expansion in terms of health programmes and personnel.

This expanding mission is a reflection of the increased importance that the Government places on health, as well as a growing interest in the Pacific among development partners.

Now there are more than a half million people living in Solomon Islands and many more health challenges than we could ever have imagined back in 1953 when we began to work together.

To make our collaboration even more effective, the Government of Solomon Islands agreed to the establishment of this WHO Representative Office in May of this year.

The official signing ceremony took place during the 65th World Health Assembly.

As with all WHO Representative Offices in the Western Pacific, this office will be overseen by the WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and myself as the Regional Director.

This all comes at a time of tremendous change and reform within WHO at the global and regional level.

Just two weeks ago an external assessment was conducted of the WHO Office in Solomon Islands.

Interviewers focused on the capacity of the office to perform its intended roles and functions.

This was the first such assessment done in the Region.

Initial feedback from the assessment team suggests that both the Government and development partners recognize the significant contribution of WHO.

Both wish to ensure that WHO maintains a strong presence and performance at country level.

We appreciate being recognized for providing results-driven support at the country level.

But for WHO, much remains to be done to fulfil our mission of improving health opportunities for all Solomon Islanders.

For making this work possible, we would like to thank our partners in the Pacific.

We would also like to congratulate the Government of Solomon Islands and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Great advances have been seen across the health sector under the strong leadership of the Minister, the Honourable Charles Sigoto. Our collaboration and cooperation have never been stronger.

I am confident that working together we can meet health challenges and create a brighter future for the people of Solomon Islands.

Thank you.

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