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Solomon Islands

Anti-vax doctors accused of risking public health

Solomon Islands is urging its people to get vaccinated and reach the 90 per cent threshold mark so it can follow Fiji and welcome a return to tourism

But four unvaccinated doctors at the National Referral Hospital have decided not to treat patients to protect them from the Covid-19 virus.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare receives his AstraZeneca vaccine. Source: UNICEF Pacific.

The Ministry of Public Service issued the order for employees of the government to comply before the end of the month, otherwise they will be forced to vacate their offices and will be paid half of their salary.

One of the four doctors, who asked for his name to be withheld, said his decision for not getting vaccinated is “based on science”.

However, that doctor decided not to dwell on his reason while he is still working at the hospital.

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It flies in the face of a senior medical official at the National Referral Hospital, who says evidence suggests that any doctor’s refusal of being vaccinated is putting not only livelihoods but public health at risk.

Another doctor did not want to reveal reasons behind the controversial decision to The Pacific Advocate until or unless there was an approval from the heads of the organisation.

The four rogue doctors face being removed from the hospital and a subsequent pay cut by Monday.

Dr Jones Ghabu, a senior consultant physician at the National Referral Hospital and head of internal medicine department, said that people including doctors should “not get manipulated” by theories about Covid-19.

“Theories are not truthful,” he said.

“The truth is that people are dying everyday with the Covid-19 virus.

“The vaccine that we are trying to roll out works and saves a lot people.”

Dr Ghabu has further appealed to doctors and nurses to set an example to Solomon Islands citizens.

He said individuals have the risk of getting infected with Covid-19 and that the best way to minimise the impact of the virus is to be vaccinated.

“I again asked all doctors and nurses, who are unvaccinated in the country, to please go get your jab because if there should be an outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, all of us will be affected,” he said.

Chief executive officer Dr George Malefoasi confirmed 13 of the 17 doctors at the National Referral Hospital have been vaccinated.

Doctors that total around 95 serving in key departments in the country are vaccinated.

Radio New Zealand reports that poor uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine in Solomon Islands could see the country’s borders remaining closed until 2023.

Prime minister Manasseh Sogavare issued the warning this week as he reiterated the government’s target of 90 percent vaccination coverage before reopening.

Sogavare said by the end of last week that only 44,613 people have completed their full vaccination, representing only 12 percent of the targeted 90 per cent coverage.

This is despite 108,417 people already having their first vaccination.

Figures prove should first jabbers get their second dose the number of fully vaccinated people will rise to 41 per cent.

At the current rate of just 7000 doses being administered per week, the Solomon Islands will not reopen borders for visitors until March 2023.

The government aims to set vaccination rates increase to 20,000 doses per week, which would enable borders to reopen in June next year.

“If you all want the borders to reopen quickly and safely, then all the people who are yet to be vaccinated must get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the Prime Minister said.

The Governor of Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Dr Luke Forau, told the 2021 Infrastructure Symposium in Honiara last week the future is not so bright because the economy is projected to grow by only 0.4 percent.

Dr Forau said borders being shut will ensure “the economy will recover in a snail movement”.

“We really need to work hard,” he said.

 

“We are in the stage of economy recovery – however, it is expected to be slow.”

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