An election victory promise to restore basic medical services

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Dear Editor,

FOLLOWING closely on his election victory in the Solomon Islands to become the new Prime Minister, the Hon. Rick Houenipwela says one of his Government’s immediate tasks is to reopen closed clinics around the country.

Prime Minister Houenipwela said his Government will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to reopen the clinics.

“One of our immediate tasks is to work with the ministries, and especially the Ministry of Health, to identify clinics around the country that have been forced to close down with the view to reopen them,” he said.

“It goes without saying that it is the responsibility of the Government to provide basic health services and, indeed, all other basic services to its citizens, especially in the rural areas.”

As I have consistently reported it is widely known that most, if not all, of the country’s 344 rural health clinics are run down and many needing urgent repairs and renovations in order to function effectively to serve the health needs of great numbers of local people.

The situation at Tatamba in Isabel Province, in the Reef Islands in Malaita, the Western province and on Savo Island is bordering on critical and many in the community are having to go without medical care or faced with travelling huge distances by canoe, as is the situation at Tatamba, to reach a clinic where they can get treatment.

At the National Referral Hospital the rehabilitation workshop that was previously used to manufacture and custom fit prosthetic limbs has been abandoned due to white and termite infestations.

There are said to be more than 400 former patients of the NRH awaiting artificial limbs after succumbing to diabetes and having undergone amputations.

I would please urge Prime Minister Houenipwela and the new SIG government to include the full restoration of the NRH’s rehabilitation workshop when getting to grips with rebuilding or fully renovating the rural health clinics.

I  would also request the Prime Minister to ensure when dealing with either re-building or restoration programmes that power facilities are provided at each of the rural clinics , whether by solar panels, diesel engines or, if possibly, by connection to the electrical grid.

It is well know that in some rural clinics doctors are having to perform surgical operations by the use of kerosene lamps and flash lights.

Toilet facilities must also be provided at rural clinics where such do not exist and hygiene and sanitary facilities restored at those clinics where toilets have not been repaired for a long period of time.

To carry out the work of  restoring basic health facilities the SIG might need the help of its traditional donor partners from the region and it would be my wish that it be fully recognised the work needed is worth supporting and help be forthcoming from Solomon Islands’ friends.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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