A team of neurosurgeons, nurses, and anaesthetists from Australia has completed a vital mission to the Solomon Islands to perform critical brain surgeries and build local medical capabilities. The 14-member team, led by Nepean Hospital’s Senior Anaesthetist Dr Narko Tutuo and Head of Neurosurgery Dr Matthew Tait, aimed to address urgent neurological conditions identified after the recent acquisition of a CT scanner by the Solomon Islands Government.
Until now, the absence of in-country neurosurgeons had cast a shadow over the fate of patients suffering from severe neurological disorders. With more than 30 patients identified as needing urgent medical intervention for conditions resulting in weakness, seizures and headaches, the team’s visit marks a turning point in the nation’s healthcare history. The completion of the Australian funded High Dependency Unit at the National Referral Hospital also means it is now possible to provide this level of health care in Solomon Islands.
The surgery team conducted 11 complex brain operations on eight patients, with an estimated cost of SBD3 million of in-kind clinical support donated during the visit.
Dr Tutuo, who hails from the Solomon Islands, emphasised the importance of training local healthcare professionals and their goal of establishing self-sufficient neurosurgical services here within five years.
Dr Tutuo stated, “Our plan is sustainable. Through continuous support and annual missions, we aim to equip the Solomon Islands with the ability to independently manage neurosurgical cases.”
Dr Matthew Tait emphasised the long-term vision: “To ensure sustainability, we plan to apply for funding to train local healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, in Australia.”
The initiative also highlights the strong relationship between Solomon Islands and Australia with the labour mobility workers under the PALM scheme getting behind the fundraising efforts.
Dr Rooney Jagilly, the head surgeon of the National Referral Hospital, expressed gratitude for the team’s efforts. He highlighted the importance of knowledge transfer and the long-term benefits of creating a network for future consultations with neurosurgical specialists.
This mission was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Nepean Hospital, Macquarie University Hospital, Macquarie Neurosurgery and Spine, Nepean Private Hospital, the Australian Government, companies including BK medical, Brainlab, Medtronic, Baxter, B Braun, Zeiss, Stryker, and the commitment of team members who left behind their workplaces and families to serve the Solomon Islands.
“We hope that the bridges built during this visit will lay the foundation for an ongoing partnership that will dramatically enhance the quality of healthcare in our country,” Dr Jagilly concluded.