DEAR EDITOR – I have grown to know and love the Solomon Islands over the past 18 years.
My first trip to Honiara from the US was tied to family history and WWII. That history is not what has kept me returning to the Solomon Islands. It is the people, the beauty, the problems and the challenges.
Most of all it is the need for establishing a modern day relationship with the Solomon Islands that recognizes your challenges like climate change impacts, sustainable use of natural resources and strengthening healthcare delivery. Many of Solomon Islands challenges of today can be addressed through partnerships that are driven by the needs and ideas of the local people, not by what hegemonic governments want.
Eight years ago when we established our Solomon Islands Endoscopy Training Partnership with the doctors and nurses at the National Referral Hospital it was because the doctors asked for it and the people of Solomon Islands needed it. We brought together individuals from multiple nations to make that a reality, doctors and nurses from Australia, the US, New Zealand and assistance from ROC Taiwan.
The beneficiaries of this partnership have been the people whose diseases have been treated by the doctors and nurses trained in a new skill set. This is what development partnerships should be, a multilateral commitment to assist with what Solomon Islanders need.
Partnerships and agreements should be for the people, not for the enrichment of some government representatives or for geopolitical advancement. Under the table agreements with foreign governments that stand to reap the benefits of natural resources or increasing presence will further widen the gap between the haves and have nots. As some have gained more wealth the National Health System has seen a decrease in funding over the past decade.
The doctors and nurses throughout the country need resources, supplies, medicines and more in order to meet the needs of today’s Solomon Islands health challenges. This imbalance needs to change. That change must come from the people most impacted by it: Solomon Islanders living on Guadalcanal, Malaita and beyond.
Dr Eileen Natuzzi
San Diego, CA, USA