Solomon Islands: A great need for Ear, Nose, and Throat and Audiology clinical services.
Yesterday, I contributed a piece to the media about the reported hearing difficulties said to involve a good number of local school children, particularly at the primary school age and I asked what was being done to investigate and treat hearing loss.
My attention was drawn by an expert physician writing to me after the publication of my article that the Solomon Islands does not have an ENT specialist in the country and services in the field of hearing loss is in the hands of a long serving and devoted nurse.
The Solomon Islands is expected to hold a fresh census sometime soon when the exact population figures will be known. It is estimated, however, the current population exceeds 670,000 and, given that figure, it is a sad reflection that there is no ENT specialist in the employment of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
If this current article is published, I would really hope that my circulating what I have highlighted via my charity orientated website www.solomonislandsinfocus.com some qualified ENT specialist might be encouraged to volunteer his or her services to the National Referral Hospital (NRH). Alternatively, one or more of the Solomon Islands traditional development partners such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, the European Union, or even Israel, might offer to have such a specialist doctor seconded to the NRH.
There is clearly concern in the Pacific region about the need for better ENT and Audiology services and I do recall that in March this year, in Nadi, Fiji, Ear, Nose, Throat and Audiology experts from 6 Pacific Island countries and partners from Australia and New Zealand successfully reviewed ENT and Audiology regional progress and shortcomings and mapped out a plan for the future development of such services.
I understand a medium-term Plan was developed which focus on estimating the burden of disease in countries and the region and the resources needed to address it, and gradually strengthening country capacity and systems to provide and monitor ENT and Audiology services.
The Pacific Community facilitated the meeting in partnership with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Pacific Islands program (PIP), the Audiology and Global Health Program, at the University of Auckland & interested New Zealand based ENT Surgeons and Audiologists, with ENT doctors and nurses from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu to review their progress and to map out plans for the future development of ENT in the region.
It is perhaps too early to say what has since been done but I understand there will be a further meeting to discuss findings from 3 to 4 April this year, also in Nadi.
As the March meeting found there is an alarming number of ENT cases and the dire need for ENT services and equipment needs, as well as a qualified workforce to treat people suffering from ENT related problems, including in the Solomon Islands.
Let us hope that a solid partnership will emerge in the region and the Solomon Islands will be the beneficiary of help in tackling ENT issues and soon.