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New Year, New Solution as Solomon Airlines and Pak Fresh Handling find a way to fly vital medications

Posted on January 08, 2021 at 08:00 AM in General News

Solomon Airlines and airfreight specialist Pak Fresh are proving that where there’s a will there’s a way, even in an era of COVID-19, to supply vital prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals to people stranded far from home.

The airline and the freight company have joined with a Brisbane Airport chemist and are starting the new year with regular shipments of much-needed prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals to doctors and patients in the Solomon Islands.

When Solomon Airlines management learned of the impact of COVID-19 on a Brisbane Airport pharmacy business, they saw an opportunity to assist people stranded in the Solomon Islands and to help pharmacist Mr. Gavin Lau at the same time.

As the local pharmacist looking after the Brisbane Airport community Mr Lau’s customers are usually a mix of international and domestic travellers and staff based at the airport. However as international flights ceased, and airport employees were stood down, with very few people still working or visiting the airport precinct, his business like many, was severely impacted.

Meanwhile, with international borders closed, Solomon Airlines became aware of people stranded in or residing in Honiara with dwindling supplies of essential medicines not readily available in Honiara.

Airline team members in Brisbane and Honiara conferred with Mr Lau and their contracted airfreight provider Pak Fresh.

“We knew that if Mr Lau’s pharmacy could renew prescriptions for those offshore being treated by an Australian registered doctor, and providing all regulatory requirements could be met, Solomon Airlines and Pak Fresh would find a way to transport the required drugs safely to Honiara, “ said Solomon Airlines CEO Brett Gebers.

Within days, the airline was made aware of an urgent requirement for a specific medication not available in Honiara and which required cold chain storage and transportation.  

Mr Lau sourced the medication, Pak Fresh Brisbane Branch Manager Georgia McCabe collected the supply and arranged required cold packing and Solomon Airlines transported it safely on the weekly Brisbane-Honiara cargo flight, to a very grateful patient. 

“By working together, we found a solution to a pressing need and a way to assist people at both ends of the Brisbane-Honiara route.

“COVID-19 has created many challenges for people and businesses everywhere but with a spirit of co-operation between partners and suppliers, we can find ways to help each other out,” he said.

Georgia McCabe, Queensland Branch Manager for Pak Fresh Handling agrees.

“We were very pleased to assist by working out a method for cold chain storage and timely handling and delivery of vital medications,” she said.

“We are now sending regular deliveries of prescriptions filled by the Brisbane Airport pharmacy, to doctors and patients in Solomon Islands.

“So that transportation is also economical, we are also co-ordinating bulk shipments of multiple prescriptions to keep costs down for individual patients,” she said.

“We hope to spread the word further in Solomon Islands, that there is a way to have prescriptions filled via the Brisbane Airport pharmacy, with essential medications being flown, safely and affordably to Honiara and beyond.”

Pharmacist Mr Lau agrees.

"I am very pleased to be part of this initiative in assisting the people of Solomon Islands to gain easier access to vital medications.

“As the people of Solomon Islands become aware of the collaboration between their national carrier, Pak Fresh and Direct Chemist Outlet at Brisbane Airport I am positive that demand for such service will increase and grow.

“At Direct Chemist Outlet Brisbane Airport, we are a QCPP approved pharmacy which can supply all scheduled prescription medications, vaccines, health supplements, and also over-the-counter items to meet the needs of everyday health.

“As COVID-19 emerged, our business has been significantly affected due to more people working from home and fewer travellers. Fortunately, we were still able to source all our medications in a timely manner due to the available access to five major pharmaceutical wholesalers in Australia.

“I am also very glad to have met Brett Gebers and Georgia McCabe as they made it possible for us to supply vaccines to the people of Solomon Islands which is vital for patients and also helps our pharmacy business to stay afloat during such difficult time."

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