Temotu, being isolated does not stop a 20 energetic group members comprised mainly of young people who risk their lives for the first time to cross the often hostile Temotu waters for a mission.
They were on a health expo program.
Health expo is one of the most simple but advance health programs that deal more with personal health and behaviour responses in improving changes of life style and reduction of life style diseases, which today Solomon Island is one of the most focus countries that was already labelled a “Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) tsunami”.
In declaring NCD crises in the Pacific region in a regional health ministers’ communiqué in Honiara late November last year, the Atoifi team stood up with the initiative as voluntary to help combat NCD in the remote areas of Solomon Islands.
Atoifi Hospital Primary Health Care Coordinator, who was also a member of the team, Chilion Evans said Temotu Province was chosen based on their geographical isolation compared to other sister provinces and the very much needed health services and that its population must not be left behind if health is said to be for all and to be inclusive for all despite the odds.
When asked about what was the main objective of the program, team leader Temox Hillary explained “the objective of the Health Expo is to identify and help improve health lifestyles of individual and behavioural changes against non-communicable diseases for a healthful wellbeing to the target population”.
In another sentiment, Gideon Fatalaea, who was also a team member points out “our hospitals and clinics are running out of medicines and we believe that personal health care is crucial at this stage”.
The program took a week in Matu village with a colourful welcome ceremony from the villagers.
There were medical health checks during the day based on the acronyms of NEWSTART (Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest and Trust). Health awareness presentations were done each night coupled with educational talks.
There was a village assessment done with a report presented to the community.
“The program is a blessing to us,” Philip Lepping, Matu village chief commented during the farewell program.
“You came to remind us about very simple tips which we often over-looked as far as health is concerned,” Lepping added.
The program targeted Bekapoa ward and over a thousand people above 16 years have been assessed.
“This program was timely, especially during this Christmas season,” John Michael Meabir, caretaker MPA of the ward expressed.
“This is the first ever Christmas season we experienced total silence within our community,” he added.
“There was zero tolerance of alcohol consumption this week!”
The team took another week in Kala Bay during the New Year week and ended the program in Lata awaiting transport to Honiara.
People living in and around Lata station were also beneficiaries of the health services provided.
Thanks to the bishop of Diocese of Temotu, Rev Leonard Dawea for granting their premises to host the program.
“This program is very significant as it promotes personal health practices,” Fr Va’agi, who is the Vicar General of the Office of the Diocese of Temotu, stated.
“Heath is important to enhance God’s work. You cannot do anything if you are not healthy,” he added.
Temox Hillary thanked individuals and organisations who have assisted the team to Temotu.
They include SIM office, Be Happy Ministry, Soltai Company, Lata Motel, Walter Kola, Fr. Brown Beu, Matu Chiefs and community, Kala Bay to Nego communities and the Atoifi family for their prayers.
The team boarded MV Onogou from Lata on a Soltai charter, which travelled to the outer islands of Temotu via Noro before arriving in Honiara last week.
The team has already resumed normal duties at Atoifi Hospital this week.
By Casper Hillary