“Health services in Solomon Islands began with the missionaries who first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the islands. Today nursing in Solomon Islands has grown to become a profession that is much relied on for the delivery of health services”,
This was stated by Chairman of the Solomon Islands Nursing Board, Mr. Michael Larui at the International Nurses Day and Midwifery Day 2023 celebrations, Friday last week when he spoke of the progresses made over the years with nursing in Solomon Islands.
In terms of nursing leadership, Mr. Larui highlighted that the nursing service was established in the mid 1900s and later the position of Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) was created by the then colonial government and localized with the late John Sisiolo the first local CNO in the 1970s.
“Today the Chief Nursing Position is a member of the Senior Executive Management of the Ministry of Health which has ensured collaboration and strong networking nationally but also in the region and the globe. In 1985 the review of the nursing structure resulted in the increased middle level management positions in the provinces and NRH wards to strengthened management and leadership at those levels”, explained Mr. Larui.
With nursing education, the Chair informed that the nursing training was first carried out by the churches in the 1900s. The Government started the nursing school in the 1950s. “The school transitioned from the MHMS to the then Solomon Islands College of Higher Education and now the Faculty of Nursing, Medicine and Allied Health sciences of the Solomon Islands National University. Atoifi Adventist college of nursing in Malaita is now a campus of the Pacific Adventist University offering four-year bachelor of nursing.
With nursing regulation, Mr. Larui highlighted that initial training of orderlies and dressers for men and midwives for women during those years were not regulated. “They were instead trained on the job to be technicians playing roles to missionaries and doctors. As the school of nursing was formed, there was a need to regulate the practice of nurses. This was when the nurses and midwives board was established in 1959, and repealed in 1987 to be renamed the Nursing Council Act. This act was amended in 1997. With the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the current act is being reviewed to capture the changing environment of nursing and health as a whole”.
“In terms of practice, as technicians during the missionary days the dressers and midwives can perform any procedure that is being taught to them, however with improvements as a result of the nurses and midwives board, the nursing procedures were developed to help them perform according to job descriptions and scopes of practices of nurses”, explained Mr. Larui.The Nursing Board Chair however said that nurses deployed to the rural and remote health centers are being faced with conditions that require advance practice therefore a review is needed of the current job descriptions and further develop scores of practices. Review of the nursing workforce showed that nurses make up more than 55 % of the total health workforce and with a total of 1655 nurses serving across the country, only 45 percent are in the provinces while the remaining 55% in Honiara”, outlined Mr. Larui.
He explained that with the growing population, the number of nurses needs to increase with appropriate postings to accommodate varying needs across the country. Mr. Larui said this will enable us to meet the requirements, of the Role Delineation Policy which will become national standards under the current National Health Strategic Plan.
He outlined areas of support to nurses in which the government and stakeholders can consider in supporting the nursing professions for effective support to health service delivery in Solomon Islands today and into the future which includes.