29 March 2019
Solomon Islands main hospital is left in emergency mode as staff leave to vote in their respective home provinces
The Solomon Islands is holding a national General Election on 3 April and the Honiara National Referral Hospital (NRH) has been forced into emergency mode because many of the hospital’s staff is having to leave for their home provinces to participate in the election next week.
Travelling to and from the various provinces, usually by sea transport, often necessitates a long journey and then travelling on land to one’s own community can only take some considerable time because of limited infrastructure and poor access roads.
There is no out of constituency voting the Solomon Islands and early polling last week was only made possible to police and electoral staff.
An internal memorandum displayed publicly announced the hospital was scaling down its operations to emergency mode from 28 March and would not resume normal services until 8 April.
The notice went on to say there would be no elective surgeries performed during this time and all referral clinics will be closed.
The chief electoral officer Mose Saitala said they were looking at solutions for future elections.
"If you look at the new Electoral Act there is one area that we have yet to activate and that is the area where we might be able to prescribe by regulations other classes of people that may qualify for pre-polling or even to other means of polling.”
"In other words we can actually try and create it by law that we have a mobile polling station."
Despite meticulous planning and preparation for the national General Election there is the reflection that provision should have been made in terms of the provisions of the new Electoral Act to ensure hospital staff, who could be classified as ‘essential workers’ could have voted by a mobile polling station, rather than having the main NRH left in an emergency mode and the cancellation of elective surgeries.
Source : Radio New Zealand.