Prime Minister Sogavare recently announced the full reopening of Solomon Islands international borders, commencing on 1 July 2022.
The reopening of the borders is a positive development for the stagnant local tourist trade and for the potential re-growth of the vital economy.
It is my great hope that the re-opening of the borders will soon see the return to the Solomon Islands of the visiting Australian doctors, specialist cardiologists and surgeons who prior to the Covid-19 pandemic regularly and voluntarily visited the National Referral Hospital (NRH) to carry out patient’s assessments and surgical operation,
I concern myself greatly for all those patients of the NRH, both in patients confined to hospital beds and those that are outpatients, but all with early or advanced illnesses linked to rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and who could after medical assessments be treated at the NRH and helped to recovery without the need for an offshore medical evacuation.
Some months ago I heard there were talks taking place to try and see the 10 bed hospital plan between the NRH/MHMS and St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney restored. A medical arrangement that operated successfully in past years and saw the transfer of sick patients to St Vincent’s hospital.
I was also of the understanding that the Medical Superintendent at the NRH was to discuss with the so-called Solomon Islands Foundation (a registered charity trust in Australia) the possible arrangements for assessed hospital patients to be treated in Australian hospitals.
I have heard nothing more as to how talks have progressed with St Vincent’s hospital, or with the Solomon Islands Foundation, but now the borders are about to reopen again will we hear more news of the possibility of re-starting the 10 bed hospital arrangement and the possibility of transferring sick patients for admission and treatment in Australian hospitals?
Many Solomon Islands parents have very deep and worrying concerns for their loved ones suffering from RHD, including their young children, and feel helpless in the circumstances that currently exist at the NRH where the specialist medical attention, including surgery, is not yet available
It is my humble plea that the Australian volunteer medical team(s) be invited to return to the NRH to carry out their vitally needed work, as soon as possible following the re-opening of air links after 1 July 2022.