Reconciliation and its importance in nation building in the Solomon Islands

Reconciliation and its importance in nation building in the Solomon Islands

Posted by : Frank Short Posted on : 29-Oct-2022
Primary health care needs in the Solomon Islands with an emphasis on early testing and screening programmes

29 October 2022

Canberra has recently announces new aid funding to Solomon Islands of an estimated amount of AUD$169 million in ODA assistance.

The aid funds are said to provide pragmatic development assistance in areas that will embrace infrastructure, climate, health, education, economic partnerships, security, and enhancing people-to-people connections, governance, elections, justice, women’s leadership and private sector development.

The new funding will also cover support for the 2023 Pacific Games.

My immediate reaction to Australia’s new round of aid funding is one of thanks but comes with the query as to how much of the funding will be devoted to Solomon Islands primary health care needs, especially given the need to tackle the increasing incidences of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the vitally important need for early screening programmes that I have so often written about and especially screening for early signs of affecting women and men, heart disease, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases in particular?

I often have praised the dedicated doctors, nurses and support personnel of the medical services in the Solomon Islands, particularly mentioning the work undertaken at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and in Provincial Hospitals, but in my view primary health care is lacking when it comes to the accessibility of rural health centres, rural health clinics and the requirements for meeting one’s everyday health care needs like conducting a regular checkup with the doctor or getting scanned, or tested for the medical concerns I have mentioned.

Too often, in my view, a lack of primary health care sees many patients being shifted for attention at the NRH and Provincial hospitals when more advanced hospital care could be avoided with community based primary health care facilities and treatment options are needed.

The main role of primary health care is to provide continuous and comprehensive care to patients. It also should help in making the patient available to the various social welfare services initiated by the MHMS, but lacking to-date.

The other major role of a primary health care center is to offer quality health and social services to the underprivileged sections of the society, and in today’s Solomon Islands that includes many particularly with the over population, lack of jobs and the impact Covid-19 had on many.

The funding Canberra will be providing should also, perhaps in the interim, while giving attention to improving primary health care and the programmes I have touched upon already, engage with and support the local MHMS to provide more comprehensive advice focusing on promoting health, preventing illness, and other chronic conditions while forging a better connection and participation within the members of a community.

The MHMS must be assisted to ensure all existing primary health care clinics contain a dedicated team of healthcare professionals offering the best medical services. They should provide a coordinated approach to the delivery of health care that ensures that the beneficiaries receive the best care.

While I accept that the new round of Australian funding might very well fail to incorporate the primary health care system I have outlined as needed, I would suggest the SIG/MHMS, consider obtaining what I would best describe as an essential Health Services Package with the support of USAID, the WHO, UNICEF and the WORLD BANK.

I have in mind that the package should consist of an integrated set of cost effective interventions which the SIG/MHMS, should be committed to making progressively available to the entire population within a couple of years after obtaining such a package.

The Government of Ghana successfully once applied for and obtained a Essential Health Service Package from the partners I have mentioned and with the USA once again re-engaging with the Solomon Islands, I would advise giving the idea a go.

Finally, today, to underscore that I have written about screening and testing as part of a primary health care system still much needed in the Solomon Islands, but a system that I very much hope will be initiated by the government soon, I will end with a published report on blood testing for early signs of cancer before it spreads.

Quoting the report, it read.

Blood test which spots ‘nearly every case of cancer’ before it spreads, will improve early treatment

29 October 2022

Laura Donnelly

A simple blood test could give mankind “mastery over cancer” by spotting nearly every case before it spreads, scientists say.

The technology - which can identify 70 types of cancer - has begun being offered privately, with the company behind it keen for it to be rolled out across the NHS.

Scientists say such techniques could be introduced as standard screening within the next five to ten years, allowing medics to eradicate cancer long before symptoms are present.

Research on 30,000 people found the checks could identify 91.8 per cent of cases which were non-metastatic.

This meant it was more treatable, because it had not spread beyond the primary site where it was found.

The NHS is already running the largest ever trial of blood tests to screen for cancer, involving 140,000 people, with hopes it could prevent one in ten cancer deaths.

So far, studies have found that the Galleri test, which can detect at least 50 types of cancer, is able to detect more than half of cases of the disease.

But a British not-for-profit company believes that a different type of “liquid biopsy,” called Trucheck, could prove still superior - especially at detecting cases at the earliest stages, when they are most treatable.

The tests were able to detect nine in 10 cases of cancer whether or not it was metastatic.

By contrast, the Galleri test reached similar levels of performance when cancer had reached stage four; meaning disease was advanced and may be terminal.

Talks with NHS cancer networks

The Trucheck test has just began being offered to private customers by British not-for-profit the Cancer Screening Trust, at a cost of £1,100, including a consultation.

The company is also in talks with NHS cancer networks, about running further trials, in the hopes it could be rolled out on the health service.

Joe Coles, chairman of the Cancer Screening Trust, said: “I genuinely think this is game-changing. It’s going to change the way cancer is thought about and treated; mankind is striving to gain mastery over cancer, and the developments in screening technology will finally put us in control.”

“Before cancer has spread it’s much easier to treat, it can be cut out, using surgery, radiotherapy or newer interventional oncology procedures,” he added.

Experts said the beauty of the technology was in identifying cases early.

Detects circulating tumour cells

The blood test itself takes less than a minute, involving just two 10 ml vials.

Before that patients go through a detailed questionnaire and consultation.

The system of liquid biopsies works by detecting circulating tumour cells which are released by malignant growths but not from non-cancerous tissue.

Over a five day process in the lab, healthy cells are stimulated to die.

Cancer cells are resistant, meaning those that remain will grow, and form clusters.

If these are identified, patients undergo an in-depth consultation, after which they can be booked in for further checks, and continue private treatment, or take the information back to their GP.

The Trucheck test, developed by the Indian firm Datar Cancer Genetics, is also available elsewhere, including in the United States and Germany.

One in two people in the UK can expect to develop cancer, and currently, diagnosis lags behind that of many Western nations.

Studies of Galleri, a test developed by the company GRAIL, which is now being piloted across the NHS - have found that at stage 1 it was able to detect 16.8 per cent of cases, rising to 40.4 per cent at stage 2, 77 per cent at stage 3 and 90.1 per cent at stage four.

By contrast, the new test called Trucheck, was able to spot 91.8 per cent of cases which were non-metastatic, research published in Cancer Cytology found. It also found 92.6 per cent of cases where disease had spread beyond the primary site.

Independent experts said the findings were “promising” - calling for further research, including trials on a real world population.

However, they also expressed some caution about making comparisons between different methods, as the trials used different measures to track disease progress.

Even at stage three, cancer can remain “non-metastatic” and the study of Trucheck did not show how many cases were picked up at this stage, rather than at stages one or two, when it is most amenable to treatment.

Basis for screening programmes

However, separate studies on breast cancer found the new technology was able to identify almost nine in 10 cases at stage one, while Galleri picked up around 16 per cent of cases.

A spokesman for Grail said latest trial results for Galleri, showing it found cancer in about one per cent of participants - including types for which there is no established screening method - “further strengthened confidence” in its ability to accurately detect cases.

Dr Richard Tippett, clinical lead for the Cancer Screening Test, said it was now working with Exeter University to model the impact of using Trucheck as the basis for screening programmes, in the hope it could be rolled out by the NHS.

“We aim to be able to show that when this test is used appropriately, it will catch cancer earlier and cure more people; but we must demonstrate that it will improve healthcare and thus save the NHS time and money,” he said.

Dr David Crosby, head of prevention and early detection research at Cancer Research UK said: “These findings about the Trucheck test are interesting – they show promising early indications that signs of cancer can be found in the blood of known cancer patients.

“However the findings are limited as the test’s ability to detect early-stage cancers appears limited and they don’t show how good the test is at picking up cancer in a real world population where individuals may or may not have cancer. We need further research to answer these questions.”

End of quote.

Source – Yahoo Health News.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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