Health team now in better position to respond to disaster


SOLOMON Islands now has its own Emergency Medical Team to respond to outbreaks, natural disasters and other health emergencies.

Known as SOLMART, a group of health professionals have undergone a weeklong training that is locally structured to suit the needs of Solomon Islanders.

Speaking to Island Sun during the professionals training, Dr Nemia Bainivalu, Supervising Undersecretary Health Improvement says, the names of health personnel will now be entered into a database whereby they can be able to respond to emergency situations should the need arise.

Bainivalu says from the database, they will also identify those that can be trained in specialised areas to further enhance their capacity.

“Whether to go for more specialised training overseas in terms of specific areas when responding to emergencies or building their leadership skills or sending them on attachments,” Bainivalu said.

SOLMART team in a practical exercise

He said other trainings will also come up for the health personnel because they need to build the right skillset for the job.

At the same time, Bainivalu says the MHMS is aware of the SOLMART team and what their roles are, thus in times of emergency, they are expected to be deployed to disaster areas.

He said the SOLMART members are those that are willing to go the extra mile to assist the MHMS in this area.

“They know what they are in for since we do not select them, they applied through an expression of interest,” Bainivalu said.

In addition, Alison Sio, Director Public Health Emergency says previously, MHMS do not have a standard operation procedure in place so they have not been able to assist NDMO much in times of disaster.

Sio says the health ministry do not have a set pool of nurses or doctors or public health officers that can be able to respond to NDMO or any emergency immediately.

She said now with this training, there a set plan and strategy in place that will be able to respond to emergencies in times of disaster.

SOLMART team in a practical exercise in how to respond to situations in the community

At the same time Lou Robinson who is with the training team from WHO says, every disaster that occur in nations are local by nature. She said this is why it important a well-coordinated system is in place to respond to any disaster.

She said SOLMART is coordinated across all sectors from provincial to national level and are trained to respond to emergencies.

“Solomon Islands has learnt from past natural disasters which is why the inception of SOLMART is very important and timely,” Bainivalu says.

Bainivalu says currently SOLMART is trained to respond to emergencies in Solomon Islands only. He said to be deployed to other countries, one including the country has to go through certain levels of certification before they can be able to respond to assist in disaster stricken areas overseas.

The training last week was focused on the practical and operational aspects of deploying a national level emergency medical team during an emergency.

The training was supported by the Australian Government and the World Health Organisation.

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