The challenges of delivering health care in the Solomon Islands reflect those across the Pacific region, with low spending on health, low ratios of doctors and nurses to population, poor health infrastructure, environmental vulnerability, and geography that isolates much of the population from health services.
The Solomon Islands has a local eye care workforce who were trained by us at the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji. They currently operate from various hospitals and eye clinics across the country. All Foundation-trained eye doctors and the majority of the Foundation-trained nurses are based at the Regional Eye Centre in Honiara which we built in 2015. With this new facility providing increased surgical capacity, the team are working towards eliminating the backlog of cataracts and helping to address other eye conditions. An outreach team from Honiara provides support to the other eye nurses placed across the country, helping deliver eye care services to their communities.
The Regional Eye Centre is not only taking strides in reducing avoidable blindness in the Solomon Islands, but is also significantly lowering energy costs. The clinic is off-the-grid, producing more energy than it can use through its solar panel system. The Solomon Islands, like other Pacific Island countries, rely heavily on imported fossil fuels to produce electricity. Power is five times more expensive than in New Zealand, with Honiara suffering up to ten power cuts each day. We prioritise environmental sustainability in all of our infrastructure projects. This helps protect the livelihoods of future generations in the Pacific who will be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
In 2016 there were significant increases in service delivery in the Solomon Islands thanks to the Regional Eye Centre we built in 2015. The eye care team: