As one of the far west islands in the Western Province, issues facing Simbo Island when it comes to medical services remains a challenge.
My recent trip to the island over the Christmas period had unveiled a number of issues facing many rural clinics around the country.
Unlike many urban health centres which enjoyed basic medical services and received up to date medical stocks, Lengana clinic is surviving limited medical supplies and lack of enough medical staff.
Since June 2013 a nurse aide had been in charge of the clinic thus, giving more pressure on the nurse to work around the clock to look after the more than 3000 people on the island.
Simbo comprised of two islands namely Ngarovo and Nusa Simbo.
With the clinic situated at Lengana on Ngarovo, sick patients from Nusa Simbo had to walk more than two miles to access the service.
A registered nurse just arrived on the island before Christmas and this had relieved the only medical officer at Lengana.
Lengana clinic received its last repair and maintenance work in 1993. Since then very little had been done to upgrade the clinic which served more than 3000 people on the island daily.
When there is an outbreak such as viral infection and diarrhoea the clinic is packed daily with the only one or two nursing attending to them
During my visit I have seen that the current status of the building is run down and need major work to repair it.
The clinic has a post natal room for mothers and babies, delivery room, fridge room, outpatient and office.
But there is a need for expansion due to lack of space to cater for the demand for the service.
Even the staff house is very old. The staff house for the registered nurse was old had to be demolised to make way for a new one.
Currently the communities are raising funds to build a new nursing house.
Bathroom and toilet at the clinic is both used by the patient and nursing staff.
Its old and unfit for use.
The clinic is being powered by solar for the fridge to store medication, radio and lighting.
Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency Charles Sigoto and the Western Provincial health division have supplied the solar equipment which helps to supply power to the fridge, radio and lighting system for the clinic.
Rotary has donated a fridge to the clinic which helped to store the medicines.
However lack of medical supplies is one of the immediate and long time problems facing Lengana clinic.
During my visit to the clinic, I’m told that theres limited stock of panadol and amoxicillin. And its not a new problem.
Therefore they have to ration the medications by only prescribing medicines to the very sick.
For those with minor complains home treatment is usually recommended.
However, the nurses said, locals usually expect nurses to give them medicines even if theres backache.
“So its quite hard to convince people to undergo home treatment rather than rely on medication all the time.”
Communication is not a problem because of the presence of a mobile tower on the island, thanks to Our Telekom.
Rister Rakena the nurse aide looking at the clinic said, the availability of the mobile service on the island has eased the problem of seeking medical advice from the medical doctors based at Gizo.
“In the event of a serious and critical cases, we just pick up the mobile phone to call doctors at Gizo hospital for further advice.
“Based on our report the doctor usually advices us what to do. But in the event where the case is beyond our capacity, the doctor would advice us to transport the patient up to Gizo,” Ms Rakena said.
Transport is not a problem because there is an outboard motor (OBM) on standby which can be used by the clinic to transport the seriously ill-patients to Gizo.
Over the past months, communities around Simbo have been conducting fundraising activities to support the construction of a medical staff house at Lengana.
Malaria can be checked at the clinic because of the presence of a microscopist.
There are medical visits by the health team from the Gizo hospital from time to time and this also helps to address some of their needs.
The clinic is blessed with the arrival of a registered nurse Katie Karie who joined Ms Rakena last December at Lengana clinic.
And she also highlighted the need for major repair and upgrading.
“This is to cater for the increasing population.”
She said, she enjoyed her stay and work at Lengana and hopes to serve the island and its people through her medical work.
By MOFFAT MAMU