The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) on the 4th of August signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University (AHGMU) at Guiyang City, Guizhou Province of the People’s Republic of China.
Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Pauline McNeil and Professor Zuo Shi, the President of AHGMU, signed the MOU to allow support and assistance in upgrading and improvement of the tertiary hospital care at National Referral Hospital (NRH) as the center of teaching, treatment of complicated cases and major referral center.
The event happened following a week’s visit to the province of Guizhou the twining sister province of MHMS. The Province holds around 40 million people and more than 27,300 health facilities including high-level tertiary hospitals, city and town hospitals and village clinics in the communities. The Solomon Islands delegation was led by the Honourable Minister of Health and Medical Services consisting of the Health Permanent Secretary and one of her Deputy Secretaries, the Chief Executive Officer NRH and relevant Heads of Department of the NRH, of which the programs are linked.
In signing of the MOU, Professor Zuo Shi believed that through the bridging role of the first and second China Medical Team in Solomon Islands, the two sides have gained a deep understanding of each other.
“By the medical cooperation of our two hospitals, it is the best proof that both hospitals are further deepening exchanges and cooperation future.”
“In the medical cooperation programs, we will select high-level doctors to consist of China Medical Team in Solomon Islands providing medical services to the people of Solomon Islands. The Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Center and Minimally Invasive Urological Surgery Center will be established at NRH in the near future, in which both sides will work closely on medical equipment and instruments donated to NRH, doctors, nurses, and administrative personnel training and postgraduate education at AHGMU, and providing related medical technology supports to the Centers. To assist NRH medical staff master specialized skills and build their competency in these areas, this will increasingly enhance the development quality of both sides’ health systems for all are of great significance,” said Professor Shi.
In response, Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana said he was indeed grateful to have witnessed the signing of the MOU between the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University and the National Referral Hospital. He described it as another huge step and achievement under the current Health Cooperation.
“The fact that Solomon Islands has forged partnership with China in 2019 was a new chapter and a new beginning for our country. Still at its infancy at 4 years old but already our country is seeing and witnessing the benefits of this partnership and cooperation at all levels and across all government sectors.”
“In the health sector, our Health cooperation between our two countries was formalised in 2020 which allowed for the dispatchment of more than 50,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines, budget support of more than SBD$2 million dollars towards operation costs of the vaccine rollout and deployment, establishment of isolation facilities at the National Referral Hospital,” said Dr Togamana.
He highlighted the cooperation also allowed for the Second China Medical Team (CMT) consisting of five personnel, three doctors, one interpreter and one chef to travel to Honiara where they are working with the local staff in providing medical services since their arrival in March 2023. The first CMT had finished their one-year mission successfully and backed to China in March of this year.
“These two medical teams are from the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University, Guizhou Province and please accept my sincere appreciation for sending your highly trained expertise to provide the much-needed services at our National Referral Hospital.”
“The commitment and dedication demonstrated by the Chinese Medical Teams, and the high professional work ethics and quality of clinical expertise delivered by the CMTs are well and truly of a high standard, as these teams of professionals, bring with them an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the provision of clinical services but at the same time building local capacity of our local doctors, specialists and nurses,” said Dr Togamana.
Health Minister also revealed that Solomon Islands is experiencing a killer disease and that is Non-Communicable Disease (NCD), with 7 of every 10 patients at the Medical Ward of NRH suffering from a NCD-related condition including diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney related.
He thanked the People’s Republic of China who will build the country’s very first Comprehensive Medical Centre (CMC) that will cater for specialised clinical services including cardiology, nephrology, urology and acupuncture.
“The ground-breaking for the construction of the facility will take place straight after the South Pacific Games in December 2023 and thereafter construction to begin in the first quarter of 2024.
“The current MOU in Health Cooperation is indeed bearing fruits though only very young at less than 3 years old, this is only the beginning,” said Dr Togamana.
The Health Permanent Secretary (PS) Mrs. Pauline McNeil reiterated the essence of this MOU at the NRH to start with plans to expand to the provinces. “While NRH is the focus for now in terms of improvement in its clinical services and enhancement of the national capacity and capabilities, future plans are being considered to equally improve our Provincial Hospitals on clinical services, ensuring health outcomes are improved at Provincial levels.”
The Chief Executive Officer, NRH, Dr George Malefoasi in witnessing the signing of the MOU and following visits of the AHGMU and other hospitals, affirmed that there is potential for improvement and upgrading of the NRH tertiary care offered under the MOU with the Chinese hospital and university.
“This MOU comes in time as NRH and MHMS have endorsed a 10-year subspecialist training for local primary specialists for doctors, nurses and allied health workers. Currently, there are 30 doctors out of the total 100 doctors in the hospital, with some form of primary specialist but lack subspecialist qualifications in cardiology, neurology, urology, nephrology and others. There are no specialist nurses,” said Dr Malefoasi.
While the MOU is the extension of the current Health Cooperation, this will now allow for short-term and longer-term training of our local doctors, nurses and allied health staff at the NRH.
Meanwhile, the key components of the MOU cover the following areas:
The project’s training and medical cooperation under the MOU will last for additional four years and ends in 2027 after which reviews will be undertaken.