12 January 2019
Solomon Islands: Urgent Interventions are needed to improve standards of care and referral of sick patients to the NRH
Several former Members of Parliament last year called for improvements in the health care system and particularly in seeing that the National Referral Hospital (NRH) was given the funds, resources and support services needed to function effectively.
While appreciative of the work all the doctors, nurses and NRH personnel do in dealing with and caring for the sick, one has to consider the criticism voiced by the MP’s has often been justified given reports of drug shortages, shortages of doctors, a lack of latex gloves and the visible evidence of sick patients lying on the floor in hospital corridors because of a shortage of hospital beds.
The five foundational elements critical to delivering quality health care services are health care workers; health care facilities; medicines, devices and other technologies; information systems; and financing.
In truthfulness it would seem from what one has read in local media reports over several years that the NRH is greatly handicapped in meeting the five foundational elements, especially in relation to health care facilities, medicines, devices (including specialist equipment such as a CT scan) and financing.
Given the Solomon Islands has a population of 600 000, with nine provinces spread over almost 1000 islands and the NRH is the only tertiary referral centre for seven government-run provincial hospitals and four mission-run hospitals in Solomon Islands it is high time for the overall needs of the NRH be prioritized and perhaps a new government administration following the general election in March will ensure this is done by considering a range and mix of possible interventions with the aim of speedy improvements to the NRH and in clinical care.
When it comes to referral of sick patients from outer provinces to the NRH there remains the problem, very often, of a lack of transport. Most often open boats with outboard motors are used leaving the sick, including very often infants and young children, without adequate referral support. This leaves the sick exposed to a harsh environment during the often lengthy time of travelling across the sea often in rain.
After 40 years since Independence it seems there are still no referral ambulance services by water and very often no standard safety equipment or medical equipment on boats used by relatives or friends who lack the knowledge and skills to manage sick patients, including infants and children.