Honiara : 10 January 2018
Letter to the Editors, Solomon Star and Island Sun newspapers
SI HOSPITAL IN THE WESTERN PROVINCE STRUGGLING TO PROVIDE HEALTH CARE
The Helena Goldie Hospital located at Munda in the beautiful Western Province of the Solomon Islands was established in 1903 by the generous support of caring people, at home and overseas, and run as a church-owned health care service in agreement with the Western Provincial Health Service.
The hospital looks after 15 clinics within Zone 3 of the Western Province, the areas comprising of North Georgia, Vona Vona Lagoon, Roviana Lagoon and Rendova Islands.
The estimated population of the large area comprises in excess of 26,000 people.
The hospital has always provided high quality health care services which meets the SI Ministry of Health guidelines and the community aided by trained and experienced staff supported by sound management, albeit there is currently a shortage of qualified Registered Nurses and there is no money to recruit more and no available accommodation even if money was provided to recruit more.
At the present time the hospital has two volunteer doctors from Switzerland and one local doctor.
The funding for the ongoing needs of the hospital is precarious since traditional donors have stopped aiding the hospital and there is no money for any infrastructural developments, but there is still some ongoing help for its capital expenditure (CAPEX) budget for Human Resources development and for medical requirements.
Clearly, there is, however, funding needed for the major administrative and overheads of the hospital.
Since 2014 the state’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services and its Support Programme for the hospital has been cut by 33 percent and there has been no change in the annual grant from the SIG.
It is said the hospital has recently resorted to having to introduce new fee charges to cover the administrative costs and overheads of continuing to run the health care services in the face of the SIG’s budget cuts and the lack of financial support from once traditional partners and donors.
It is estimated it costs the hospital S85 to care for one patient overnight but the shortage funds is said to be causing the hospital great concern over its deficit.
The hospital has no empty beds and is really struggling to provide the vital health care it has always given but clearly more money must be forthcoming, and soon, if wages, electricity and telephone bills are to be paid.
As the SI Government grant is not enough to meet the hospital’s recurrent budget and given the fact that the Helena Goldie Hospital is an essential health care provider in the Western Province is it too much to ask that the SIG increase its Support Programme allocation for, after all, the SI Prime Minister made it an election pledge to restore provincial health care clinics – and Helena Goldie has 15 of them and a local community in excess of 26,000?