WALKING for hours under the scorching heat of the sun simply for medical attention, worst still, losing a family member or friend along the way will now be a thing of the past for around 5,000 villagers in and around Ghombua community, east Guadalcanal.
On Tuesday this week, the villagers gathered in excitement to witness the opening of their new Rural Health Clinic (RHC).
Guests escorted by pathfinders, flags raised, national and provincial anthems sang, speeches, choirs from community men and women followed by red velvet cake and ribbon cutting and community feast with presentation of gifts were part of the celebrations to mark the official opening of the clinic.
Though a joy-filled event, time was also spared for the entire community to come to a stand -still with the laying of wreaths to remember family members and friends who have passed on and those who have dreamt of a clinic but never lived to witness their dream come true.
“Truly a historic moment for our people,” community and church leader Silas Ratu said.
“We have witnessed the devastation that lack of a easy to access clinic can cause and today we are overjoyed that we have our own rural health clinic just steps away from our homes,” Ratu stated.
Chief Issac Lewa, who was also given an opportunity to speak, only stood and repeatedly uttered the words: “Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and everyone of you!” to demonstrate that words cannot even begin to describe the tremendous joy within the community.
The construction of the AHC was made possible with funding from the Provincial Governance Strengthening Program ( PGSP) – Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF) implemented through the Ministry of Provincial government in partnership with the community and contractor, Reinunu Construction.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, through its Guadalcanal Provincial Health team, provided the technical support in terms of design including all necessary works to enlist Ghombua with the medicines supply chain and placement of a nurse at the clinic.
Both the Deputy Premier Lazarus Rima and Provincial Health Minister Francis Iso in their remarks reiterated the province’s commitment towards service delivery to the people and the need for community members to look after the facilities provided.
“Guadalcanal is glad to have qualified for the PGSP-PCDF over the past years and has used the opportunity to engage in various projects, throughout the province,” Rima said.
“Last financial year, Guadalcanal had embarked on 15 projects, 14 of which were completed, and Ghombua is amongst the 14 completed projects,” he added.
“Thank you to the Ministry of Provincial Government, Ministry of Health, community members, contractors and all stakeholders whom have contributed towards this clinic.”
The Provincial Health Minister Iso in his remarks acknowledged the community for their determination and commitment towards the project that had enabled it to come to its fruition.
“Your support is the backbone to the success of this project and I hope other communities can also learn from Ghombua’ s commitment and cooperation in working together to achieve this important health milestone for the community,” Iso said.
“It is important that the facility is taken care of since it is now in your hands to continue providing the much needed health services to our people now and into the future,” he added.
Dr Joel Denty, Director of Guadalcanal provincial health, used the occasion to highlight the importance of respecting the facility and the health workers, the nurses who will be working there.
“I would like remind you all that there are many cases in which health facilities have been disrespected including nurses working these clinics, which have resulted in their closure,” Denty said.
“This must not be the case here,” he added.
“The last thing we want is to close the clinic. Treat the facility well including the nurse who will take care of more than 5000 people that is within the catchment area of Ghombua.
“With this kind of number the nurse herself will not be able to even find time for leisure, even banking in Honiara.
“She will be overwhelmed and therefore take care good care of her as we work on getting additional nurses to assist her.”
Head of St John Ambulance, Douglas Kelson, who provided new bed linens for the clinic also offered to provide two of St John volunteers to assist the nurse for the time being until an additional nurse is recruited.
Kelson said St John Ambulance will also be installing two-way radio at the clinic to ensure smooth communication and swift action for any emergency cases that needs urgent medical attention at the National Referral Hospital.
The event, which was also attended by Guadalcanal Provincial Ward Member, Holsey Chainivila and Rose Tala provincial Minister for Women, Youth and Children, came to a successful close.