Call for new Solomons govt to prioritise health sector

The outpatients area at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Picture: RNZ

HONIARA, 10 APRIL 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) – Solomon Islands health professionals are calling for the incoming government to prioritise health services.

Negotiations between political parties and independents to form a new government are underway in the capital, Honiara after last week’s election.

Meanwhile, a doctor at the country’s main hospital, Pedical Togamae, said health spending had not been prioritised over the past decade.

Last year, a change to procurement processes at the ministry of health had led to a national drug shortage, he said.

The crisis highlighted how much the country’s leaders had neglected the health sector, Dr Togamae said.

“In terms of political will, I think it will be very good if whoever comes into power puts health as the number one priority because currently our health system is going down and the hospital is overcrowded,” he said.

“There is shortage of drugs, even though they said it is coming up better but all throughout the country everyone is facing the problem.”

One of the fastest ways the new government could improve health outcomes for Solomon Islanders was to decentralise the country’s health services, Dr Togamae said.

Currently, all patients with serious medical problems are referred to the main hospital in Honiara, a costly practice that’s unsustainable both for the health system and the patients involved, he said.

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