Posted by : Posted on : 08-Apr-2019

8 April 2019

Leadership in the care and treatment of the sick, the infirm and those needing definitive surgical care

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Sheryl Sanberg.

The Solomon Islands General Election is successfully over and the task ahead for the elected Members of Parliament, some former serving MP’s and some new, is to form the make-up of the new administration under the leadership of a Prime Minister.

The Solomon Islands motto is ‘To lead is to serve.”  In a profoundly Christian country like the Solomon Island all professing Christians will agree that a Christian leader should be a servant leader.

There can be no greater service than that exemplified by our doctors, nurses and medical specialist in their care for the sick, the injured and especially their love for those in our midst needing specialist medical attention and corrective surgery.

I write to bring to the notice of the incoming administration that there are many hundreds of sick patients in the country, including young children that are suffering from rheumatic heart conditions but have no means in the Solomon Islands of definitive surgical care.

It is my understanding that some school screening for RHD showed that there is a high rate of rheumatic heart disease in the community.

In Sydney, there is an organization called Open Heart International which facilitates surgical operations in accordance with best practice in disadvantaged communities and provides life saving surgery in some of our nearest neighboring countries, especially in Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and in Papua New Guinea.  Also in other countries like Nepal and the Philippines.

Open Heart International truly leads by serving and has done so much over several years to give life-saving surgery to thousands in need.

The organization has never, to my knowledge, carried out surgical operations in the Solomon Islands and it is my humble request to our incoming leaders to request that Open Heart International be invited to check out the facts relating to the high incidence of RHD and to assist those in need of corrective surgery.

I have spent today looking at the outstanding work done by Open Heart International and will quote some information given by one of the main sponsors of the Sydney based organization

“We like to call Australia the lucky country, but when it comes to healthcare, we’re not just lucky, we’re world-leading. So we believe it’s not only our privilege, but our responsibility to share surgical best practice with the most disadvantaged communities on the planet. By bring modern surgery, training, equipment, and community education to where they are needed most, we’re not just saving lives today, we’re transforming a whole community’s ability to save lives ongoing.

“Open Heart International was established in 1985 by Mr. Russell Lee.

“The genesis of Open Heart International was in Russell’s visit to see his missionary parents in Tonga. While in Tonga, he witnessed the lack of surgical options for those dying of rheumatic heart disease. As an ICU nurse specializing in cardiac care and challenged by what he saw, he returned to Australia determined to make a difference.

“It was from this desire to make a difference in Tonga that led to the initiation of “Operation Open Heart for Tonga” by the three men, with strong support from many others. By 1986, they had succeeded in fundraising; they had acquired equipment, and had coordinated a small group of Sydney Adventist Hospital medical and nursing staff to travel. The rest as they say is history.

“Over thirty years since that first project visit to Tonga, our purpose remains the same – to gift surgical best practice to the most disadvantaged communities on the planet.

“We deal with critical and complex surgical interventions in places where people have lost hope.

“While some of these interventions may not sound ground-breaking by Australian standards – a few being heart valve replacements, burn scar contractures, cataract removal, and uterine prolapse surgery – we were first to perform some of them in places like Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu, transforming thousands of lives as a result.

“We have a long-term commitment to creating local self-sufficiency, not band aid solutions. It starts with volunteer teams of surgeons, doctors, nurses, clinicians and educators carefully developing every single program detail to address needs and competencies of the local medical team.

“It includes us equipping local medical teams with thousands of dollars of equipment so they have the tools, as well as the training, to continue the work when we leave.

“And it ends with ongoing follow-up and educational teams ensuring our efforts take root.

“Because while saving a life today is amazing, the greatest thrill we get is hearing that operations are being performed long after we’ve left. We believe it is the most valuable gift that we can possibly give to other human beings, and it is the reason why we exist.”

I would urge our new government leaders to try and secure to-end surgical best practice surgery for the many suffering from RHD at home and to put hope back in the lives that need it most.

By achieving this one will truly be able to demonstrate service in leadership of the Solomon Islands.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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