Tuvalu’s huge health boost

The World Bank has approved a US$15 million grant to Tuvalu to better its health care services and service delivery.

The fund will go towards improving Tuvalu’s biggest hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and 11 health clinics.

This will help Tuvalu’s National Health Strategic Plan 2020-2024, with the Tuvalu Health System Strengthening Project strengthening health services at the country’s national hospital and at 11 health clinics.

World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific, Lasse Megaard said their goal is to make sure that people who need treatment and support are able to get it when they need it, wherever they may be.

“The Princess Margaret Hospital and health clinics play a central role in delivering health care and this important project will increase their ability to provide additional and much needed services,” he said.

“This includes support to address non-communicable diseases, a significant issue across the Pacific – including in Tuvalu – and the World Bank is deeply committed to supporting Tuvalu’s efforts to tackle the problem.”

The project will help deliver a new wing and increase the capacity of staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital in the capital, Funafuti.

A Taiwanese delegation visits the Princess Margaret Hospital in 2019. Picture: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This means patients can receive more and better access to services such as emergency care, basic surgical operations, rehabilitation, mental health care, and counselling.

The additional services and facilities will allow for an increase of the hospital laboratory’s testing capacity and an expansion of the central medical store which houses vital pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

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Tuvalu’s Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Health Seve Paeniu said the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions highlighted the importance of being able to provide health care to people within Tuvalu.

Princess Margaret Hospital in Funafuti in Tuvalu. The World Bank has approved a US$15 million grant to Tuvalu to better its health care services and service delivery. Picture: Tuvalu Government

“To do that, we have to invest in Princess Margaret Hospital and our health clinics to make sure our staff have the appropriate resources, we can use technologies like telemedicine and we maintain the readiness of our facilities to save lives and improve quality of life for everyone.”

With 75 per cent of the disease burden in Tuvalu coming from non-communicable diseases, the project will focus on ensuring there is an effective screening and management program in place.

The project will also support potential new health information management and asset management systems, as well as the development of accessible public feedback systems which can be used to monitor and improve health sector performance.

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