5 June 2019
Solomon Islands:† Providing health care clinics in rural locations by possibly adapting old shipping containers
The new DCGA recently released its 100 day policy plans and I noted with much appreciation the immediate needs of the National Referral Hospital (NRH) are to be given priority attention.
Dealing with the run-down and in many cased the dilapidated condition of the countryís colonial era health clinics will take time but could old shipping containers be acquired, converted and put to use as clinics in the more accessible areas of the country?
The Solomon Islands is known to have at least 12 species of termites and white ants are common.† Both these pests cause much damage to buildings and contributed over the years to the collapse of the rural health clinics in the Western Province and in Isabel Province in particular.
When I looked today at the new mini-clinic built in the Malango ward in Guadalcanal Province,† I had the impression that it had been made from a shipping container but probably not.† Nevertheless, the size and sturdy construction of the facility could easily be duplicated by a converted shipping container and be durable, strong and provide protection from termites and white ants.
The community at Malango waited 25 years for their much needed mini-hospital and I have no idea how long construction† took, or how long the planning and finance needs covered but presumably quite some time.
I believe there would be minimum time in making a modular health clinic fabricated at a suitable location.† It would be cost effective, robust, occupy a minimal footprint and need minimal construction on site.
Shipping containers have a long history of being converted into offices, homes, and for other uses. They have also been used as laboratories and clinics for many decades, though with varying degrees of sophistication. New techniques, materials, designs, and fittings have been repeatedly refined to maximize the space available, improve safety, and generally increase functionality.
I would be confident that Solomon Islanders could easily adapt a shipping container to the specifications and standards that the MOHMS would possibly require.
Modifications such as adding additional ventilation, electricity (by solar power), and insulation between walls and roofs to reduce internal temperature fluctuations could easily be made.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has supported modular clinics and laboratories† in Livingstone, Zambia and presumably have seen the wisdom and practicability of converting shipping containers in a way that could bring cost effective benefits to the Solomon Islands communities still without adequate rural health facilities.