Ministy of Health and Medical Services, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands' Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is responsible for the management and delivery of the health and medical services across the archipelago, and plays a crucial role in health education and promotion.

Australian volunteer, Pediatrician Dr Shidan Tosif at the Special Care Unit, National Referral Hospital, Honiara via a partnership program with The Royal Children’sHospital, Melbourne. Photo: M. BainbridgeThe MHMS is the overwhelming provider of health services across the country's 992 islands. Eight out of nine provinces have a public hospital; provincial services include a network of health centres, aid posts, and village health workers. NGOs and faith-based organisations (such as four private hospitals owned and operated by church organisations) provide less than 15% of outpatient and inpatient services.

MHMS is made up of four primary units: Health Improvement, Health Care (including Hospital Services), Health Policy & Planning, and Administration & Management. Recent priorities have focused on completing a revision of the National Medicines Policy in order to deliver outcomes detailed in the National Health Strategic Plan.

Location

MHMS is located in the Chinatown area of Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara. With a growing population of around 100,000, Honiara is home to the country’s government buildings, commercial centre and sea port, as well as a National Museum, art gallery, markets, botanic gardens and beaches. Diving, snorkelling, hiking and bush-walking are all popular pastimes, with the islands boasting extraordinary marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Honiara is something of a melting pot for the more than 70 living languages spoken throughout the Solomons. While English is the official language, it is spoken by less than 2% of the population. The lingua franca is Solomons Pijin.

Assistance requested

MHMS requires administrative and clinical support across a range of specialist fields, including staff training, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, and drug information. In particular, Solomon Islands is in the unique situation of having foreign trained medical graduates (FTMG) returning in numbers of up to 25 per year, meaning 50 or more junior doctors undertaking pre-registration training in the health system at any one time, combined with very limited capacity for senior medical staff to provide adequate supervision.

Impact

Through the Australian Volunteers program, an Australian Government initiative, MHMS staff have been supported to deliver improved essential medical services in line with the organisation's development plan. As the poorest country in the Pacific Region by GDP per capita, Solomon Islands has produced some of the better health outcomes for the money it spends, performing at or above the total disease burden level compared to countries of similar socio-economic levels. This is despite a doctor/health worker-to-population ratio that is among the lowest in the Pacific.