By ANDREW FANASIA
“Avoidable deaths can only be avoided if we have proper health and medical facilities on the island of Ulawa”.
This sentiment was echoed by a lone Registered Nurse, Judith Rose Ahukeni of Taheramo area health clinic on Ulawa Island.
Ms Rose was doing her house chores at her home village when Star National Magazine visited her for an interview after visiting the clinic.
Ms Rose has been working in the medical sector for a good number of years in various health clinics and centres around Makira/Ulawa province before she was transferred to Ulawa to look after the clinic at Taheramo.
With a wide smile, she stressed her willingness to give any information pertaining to the condition of Ulawa’s health and medical centre which is located few kilometres from the well-known Su’umoli wharf.
With a good number of years in the nursing sector, her promotion to the status of a registered nurse in-charge of Ulawa area health clinic is not a mistake.
When asked about the status of health services on Ulawa Island, she quickly replied that the pictures captured by Star National revealed the whole story about the services on the island.
“We are fortunate not to experience any major outbreaks of illnesses,” she said amidst momentary sneezing as she was also down with flu when she was interviewed.
“Any serious outbreaks would be disastrous taking into account the state of health services on the island,” she continued.
She said that the island has three other clinics but they are also structurally deteriorated as a result of neglect.
“I have to be very careful of how we use our drugs because we want to avoid shortage of very important drugs,” she said.
“A major breakout of diseases will be a real disaster because of the rudimentary nature of health services on the island,” Ms Rose expressed with great concern.
She added that the health centre has one outpatient building constructed of locally sourced materials, a building for drug storages, a specially built structure for Malaria and two staff houses.
“However, these buildings are deteriorating and urgently in need of renovation or better still, replaced to cater for the growing health need of the people of Ulawa,” Ms Rose stressed.
She said that the medical infrastructure on the island is slowly falling apart and if nothing is done in the near future, health services will surfer.
When asked who is responsible to address this issue Ms Rose responded saying that their provincial government should be the first to take attend to the plight of their clinic.
Ms Rose said that earlier this year, the senior health inspector at Kirakira visited the health centre and condemned the building as unsuitable for health service provisions.
“I am waiting on the Health Authority in Kirakira to instruct me as to when to close down the health centre,” she said with a look of dismay.
There are two new buildings still under construction which are funded by the people and the government of Japan through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
One is meant for the Health Promotion program and the other is for maternity services.
When asked about the shortage of essential drugs, Ms Rose said, “For God’s Sake I do try my very best to make sure current stock does not run out before the next shipment arrives from our provincial headquarter in Kirakira.”
“Because of the remoteness of the island and the unreliability of shipping services, extra care must be taken to ensure there are enough drugs to go around before the next shipment of stock arrives,” Ms Rose added.
Ms Rose further expressed her disappointment with the provincial health authority for not responding to her plea for a reliable transport for medical related matters.
“We used to have an outboard motor but since it broke down the authority could not manage to fix it which cost us alot,” she said with disappointment.
The stretch of water between Ulawa and Makira is quite treacherous at times and ferrying of patients and drugs between the islands can be hazardous.
The Registered Nurse iterated that the health centre has not received its share of drugs and other medical supplies for almost four months to date and she is worried that if supplies are not forth-coming, health provision on the island will surfer.
The responsible health authority in Kirakira is urged to address the chronic health situation on Ulawa to prevent avoidable deaths that stemmed from nothing but mere negligence.
Ms Rose called on authorities to prioritise revamping health services and infrastructure on Ulawa so that services to the people can be rendered without impediments.
· *This piece was published in the Issue 8: Ulawa Island, of the Star National Magazine – Solomon Star’s monthly magazine.