Clinics on Ulawa Island in the Makira Ulawa province are in a bad state and can be closed down.
Two of the four Rural Health Clinics (RHC) on Ulawa, namely Haupala and Taheramo are too old and needs urgent repairs as the roofs have leaked, walls damaged by termites and also are too small in relation to the islands’ increasing population.
John Matemotu from Kelimei village said that this is an issue for the North Ulawa ward which is the catchment area of Taheramo clinic, and if health authorities decide to close down Taheramo because of the current state of the building and no proper storage room for medical supplies.
“Since 1993 when the clinic first opened doors for service, there has never been any infrastructure upgrade or improvement done with our clinic, the clinic’s two room building is now too old and has been damaged by termite as well as it is small compared to today’s increasing population. The only development here is the building of the failed Maternity building way back in 2012 funded by the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (SIRDP)”, Mr Matemotu said.
Mr. Matemotu said the big question is who is responsible for the development of clinics back in the rural areas.
“Who is responsible for the upgrading of these infrastructures, the communities here or is it the Makira Ulawa provincial government or the National government?” he asked.” Responsible authorities should not turn a blind eye on these things as we are dealing with people’s lives and their rights to access better health facilities.”
He added that people here are doing their part in keeping the clinic compound clean, doing repairs to thatched roof buildings such as the admission house and others as they only need local materials which is free and available unlike hardware materials.
“The communities have played their part in keeping maintenance work as these don’t require hardware materials but local materials where they can collect from the bush and to date, people are tired of doing maintenance and repairs to these thatched roof buildings such as the admission house, toilets and staff kitchens every year,” he further added.
Ishmael Maeohu of Mwajoa village also shared similar sentiments about Haupala clinic which is located on Ward three of the Makira Ulawa province, and about ten kilometers east from Taheramo Clinic.
He said Haupala clinic too is facing the same problem and there is also no proper toilet for the staff and the sick patients.
“I can say here that Haupala’s clinic building conditions are far worse than that of Tahramo clinic. We don’t have any toilets here and both the nurse and the sick patients admitted here are using the seaside as toilets,” Mr Maeohu confirmed.
“Imagine somebody who is very sick and has to walk for a few meters to the seaside if he or she wants to go to the toilet.” He adds. “It is very bad that the clinic lacks these very important facilities that they should have.”
Mr Maeohu said responsible authorities should try to address these problems as people have suffered for a long time now.
“I am calling on the Makira Ulawa medical division, the provincial member for ward three and not forgetting our parliament member to try as much as possible to address these issues relating to our clinic’s infrastructure conditions so that people in the rural areas can have access to good and better facilities”, he further added.
The Haupala clinic staff house is also no longer suitable for the nurse to live in as the building was badly damaged by termites and the nurse resorting has to live in another old permanent building that is not part of the clinic.
By Lionel Taoroa