New health project to deliver new hospital wing, increase capacity of staff throughout Tuvalu, and strengthen service levels in emergency, surgery, rehabilitation, mental health, counselling, and management of non-communicable diseases
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 –Tuvalu’s progress towards universal health coverage has received a big boost, with a new US$15 million grant to increase the capacity of health service across the Pacific nation approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors today.
In line with Tuvalu’s National Health Strategic Plan 2020-2024, the Tuvalu Health System Strengthening Project will strengthen health services at the country’s national hospital and at 11 health clinics, while also focusing on building more effective health management systems that support an increasingly quality driven, resilient health system.
“Our 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,” said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific. “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. 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 an increase the capacity of staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital in the capital, Funafuti. 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.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions highlighted the importance of being able to provide more health care to our people within Tuvalu and our own communities,” said Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Health. “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.”
Greater access to primary health care in the community for people across Tuvalu will also be boosted under the project. This includes support to the 11 health clinics across country, including those on Tuvalu’s outer atolls, and additional resources being made available to support survivors of family and gender-based violence. With 75% 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 new 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.
The US$15 million Tuvalu Health System Strengthening Project is being funded through a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries – and will be implemented by Tuvalu’s Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, and Gender Affairs.