Aiding and funding rural medical services in the Solomon Islands

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DEAR EDITOR, once again this year a mobile medical team is visiting the Solomon Islands and currently visiting Small Malaita for 8 days or so,

The medical team includes a neurosurgeon, a neurosurgeon specialist an infectious disease specialist, a general practitioner and a senior nurse.

The mobile medical mission will offer basic physician consultation and medical treatment to the people in the rural communities.

I offer my personal thanks and appreciation to the Taiwanese Embassy in Honiara and to the medical team for this visit assisting rural people with medical care.

I am mindful, however, that rural health needs of communities across the Solomon Islands are still greatly lacking and especially since most, if not all of the rural health centres or clinics have become derelict and are no longer in use. I think particularly of the lack of medical facilities at Tatamba in Isabelle Province and at Panueli on Russell Islands.

As far as I recall, the Solomons has approximately 22 doctors per 100,000 of the population, but also has a strong base of nurses and midwives at 205 per 100,000 of the population.

I read that in recent years there was a move to increase the number of doctors, with up to 25 foreign trained medical graduates returning each year, however, if that had come about, with minimal senior medical staff having adequate supervision as a junior doctor it would pose a challenge.

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I believe Government expenditure on health rests at approximately 8.4 percent of the GDP, with non-government organizations and faith-based organisations contributing some funding and providing approximately 15 percent of outpatient and inpatient services.

While I acknowledge the Solomons has made significant progress in the past few decades with enabling rural service delivery, reducing malaria and improving infant and child health and has successfully increased the immunization rate for measles to 85 percent, and increased the number of births attended by qualified physicians to 86 percent much more needs to be done by the SIG to improve rural health care and especially in respect of restoring rural health facilities.

The Australian Government has continually funded health care services to the Solomon Islands and the Government of Israel promised help but health care is a fundamental human right and as such we must be extremely grateful for the intervention of medical teams from Taiwan and other regional countries.

Such help by visiting medical teams is essentially, however, “band-aid” and greater efforts must be devoted to basic health care and provisioning as I have said.

My personal view and, perhaps shared by others, is that direct targeted funding by Taiwan into the rural health sector instead of the manner in which all CDF money is currently contributed could do much to see tangible health gains in terms of restoring broken down health clinics and facilitating access to local nursing and aid services.

 

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

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