March 4, 2023
I have long been on record about the failings in the Solomon Islands for victims of heart related diseases such as rheumatic heart disease and rheumatic heart fever and the following polite observation written by Dr. Dudley Maenuu Baerodo adequately expresses the situation that should have been addressed long ago instead of diverting funds away from vital health care services for shorter term gains.
Just recently, I joined relatives to mourn the passing of a niece. She was in her early 30s. She left behind her two young children (boys).
As we sat around the casket, her bereaved father told us the story of her life.
In 2014, she had completed her studies at SICHE. She graduated with a qualification in business. She then applied for a job in one of the commercial banks in town. During the medical check, she was found to have a heart condition. As a result, she was not selected for the job.
She had further tests done by doctors at NRH and it was confirmed that she had a heart condition. Such conditions can be corrected by Surgery. But unfortunately, it is not provided in Solomon Islands.
If any patient requires such surgery, she can receive it in Tertiary hospitals overseas. But the average cost for the surgery alone, in Australia, is approximately AUD $60,000.00 which is equal to SBD $360,000.00, a sum that most ordinary Solomon Islanders will not be able to afford.
Thus, the family decided to remain in the country and continue with treatment as prescribed by her local Physicians. On several occasions over the years, she was admitted into the Hospital for treatment.
Her condition deteriorated rapidly over the last one year. And on one of her latest admissions, her Physician explained to the father that her condition has deteriorated. Everything that could have been done in our situation, has been done and nothing else can be offered.
In his conclusion, the grieving father said that though he is sad to lose his daughter, he is finally relieved that at last his daughter will rest from the pain and suffering she went through. For the patient and the family, it was a torture to travel the journey, knowing that nothing can be done.
Come to think of it, there are many more ordinary Solomon Islanders who are going through similar situations, are living amongst us in our communities. My wild guess is that there would be about 500 give or take, both children and adults who have some form of heart condition. Many have passed on in similar way. While many more new patients are diagnosed each year, to add on to the list.
Looking back, we had only two “Open Heart International” visits initiated by the Sydney Adventist Hospital. The first visit was in 1997 and the second visit was in 2006. We tried to organize a third visit in 2014 but it did not eventuate.
With regards to our neighboring Pacific Island Countries:
In PNG, Operation Open Heart began in Port Moresby General Hospital, in 1993. Since the first visit, they have visited every year. The program is strongly supported by the private sector.
PNG now have trained Cardiac Surgeons and Cardiac Anaesthetist.
In Fiji, Open Heart International first visited Fiji in 1990. Since then, they have visits every year.
The big question for Solomon Islands is, are we just going to watch and wait as our basic health services continue to deteriorate?
I firmly believe that we must not continue to live in denial.
We all know that it is better to be proactive rather than reactive.
The decision makers and those in positions of influence must not be complacent or procrastinate, rather they should bring themselves down and deal with the real issues affecting ordinary people.
Let us improve the service.
By Dr Dudley Maenuu Baerodo
End of Quote.
Source - Solomon Star News.
The loss of a loved one, especially a child, is something that brings about lasting grief and heartbreak and few in authority seem to understand what such a loss entails. I do because I lost my only dear son last June at only 49 yrs.
Dr Barerodo is right to call on decision makers and those in authority to give the attention and the funds to the real issues affecting the people, such as those with heart related diseases and their possible offshore life saving treatment.