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Solomon Airlines supports Australian medical experts to help advance Cancer and Pallative Care Services


Posted on October 20, 2023 at 05:00 PM in General News


Solomon Airlines has again supported an expert oncology team from Canberra Australia in their mission to help develop medical services for cancer and palliative care patients.

The multidisciplinary oncology team from the Canberra Region Cancer Centre visited the National Referral Hospital this month to examine workflows, processes and policies in the NRH Oncology Unit, which the Australian team helped to commission in 2018.

Solomon Airlines has provided ongoing support, most recently facilitating the carriage of 150kgs of essential medical supplies including medications and equipment.

Whilst in Honiara, the medical team also delivered education sessions and consulted on the care of patients
in the outpatient clinic and within the hospital wards.

The visit was a continuation of  a close relationship developed with the National Referral Hospital since 2016. Two Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Oncology Missions have occurred previously in 2018 and 2019.

Over recent years, medical professionals from Solomon Islands have also visited Australia to observe clinial practice at the Canberra Region Cancer Centre including Dr Andrew Soma (in 2017 and 2023) and oncology nurses Meltus Oiapta and Steven Kole who visited Canberra in 2019. 

This year the  NRF Oncology Unit again welcomed the familiar faces of the  original team of Professor Desmond Yip (Medical Oncology), Dr Nalini Pati (Clinical Haematologist), Ms Beth Hua (Oncology Pharmacist) and Sister Wendy Spencer (retired Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant), who were joined by Sister Kate Reed (Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner) on her first mission visit.

Since establishment, the NRF Oncology unit has grown from one doctor and two nurses to two doctors and five nurses with an increasing number of patients being treated.

Whilst in Solomon islands, the Australian team also reviewed the need for palliative care services and advised on a plan which could see NRH adopt a model where care is provided by ‘palliative care champions’, who are especially familiar with this patent service.

“It has been a privilege to be involved in this project, where due to the vision of surgeon Dr Rooney Jagilly and the commitment of local health professionals, the oncology service has been able to be able to offer cancer treatments to Solomon Islanders that were not previously available locally,” said Team leader Professor Desmond Yip.

Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Sister Kate Reed was optimistic about future palliative care services.

“There is strong will in developing our collegial relationship and building toward integrating a sustainable palliative care model with the NRH, the Solomon Islands University and the provinces,”  she said.

The Oncology Mission was funded by The Canberra Hospital Private Practice Trust Fund and a John James Foundation Volunteer Grant. The team travelled under a Memorandum of Understanding between Doctors Assisting in South-Pacific Islands (DAISI) and the National Referral Hospital, and Australian High Commission, Honiara.

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