Dear Editor – In officially opening the 18th South Pacific Nurses Forum and 7th South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance Meeting in Honiara this week, the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, highlighted the core constraints and ongoing challenges in the Solomon Islands health sector.
The Prime Minister referred in particular to problems in the rural supply chain, especially mentioning pharmaceutical supplies and the poor state of many rural health facilities and the NRH needing urgent repairs and rebuilding, all matters that I have referred to in recent letters to the local media.
Prime Minister Sogavara went on to say that the proposed new health sector policy sets out to address such problems within four groupings of objectives and strategies. These, he explained, are briefly as follows:
Essential services that will contribute to a positive change in the health status of the community;
Delivery of those essential services across all provinces and the National Referral Hospital (NRH);
The corporate support required to facilitate the delivery; and
Laying foundations for the future.
In sum, the immediate priority activities include the relocation of the National Referral Hospital while other medium term priorities include rehabilitation, reconstruction and construction of new medical infrastructures in rural and urban centres.
I am not clear on the reference to “medium term” in the context of the need for improvements of new medical infrastructures in rural and urban centres, but obviously the run down state and closure of many of the rural health clinics, particularly in the Western Province, demands priority attention and it is to be hoped ‘corporate support’ from partners or donors, other than the government, will see the need to help and sooner rather than later.
It terms of delivering much needed medical supplies and equipment to the NRH and Provincial Hospitals, the recent signing of a MOU between the MOHMS and ‘Take My Hands’ Charity Trust in New Zealand, I am helping to see coordinated, will ensure the MOHMS (NRH) and some deserving NGO’s such as the local charity organization, Hearts of Hope (HOH) will get up to 10 twenty foot containers of donated supplies and equipment per year.
The first two containers for this year are forecast to arrive towards the end of November or early December.
Prime Minister Sogavare mentioned in his address the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) Nursing School and Degree Programme which he said has a credible standing amongst similar institutions in the south pacific region but excluding Australia and New Zealand.
It is rather ironic and sad, in my view, that the Director of NRH Nursing, Selwyn Hou, should have told the same conference that the migration of local nurses to other countries in the region had caused inconvenience to the health services locally.
MrHou explained that most local nurses are able to go and work overseas because the certificate they attain in the Solomon Islands is recognised regionally but the main pull factor which causing nurses to leave the country was the better packages that they receive overseas, compared to the ones they get at home.
The President of the International Council of Nurses, Dr Judith Shamian said, during the conference, one of the biggest difficulty nurses in theSouth Pacific face is to deliver appropriate health services to meet the demands of every single individual.
She added that, “lots of people engaging in the sector are doing so with the heart they have for people.
Health workers work without getting paid sometimes, and they face lots of economic challenges but they never back down.
The work of providing health care is all about dedication, the heart you have for people is what this field is all about.”
The nurses in the Solomon Islands , given the trying and often difficult circumstances they often have to work under, are truly dedicated, and we should all recognize and thank them for their dedication to their calling and hope more will stay at home, given the Solomon Islands government is working to address the MOHMS challenges.