Ben’s article went on to say, quote:
The Minister for Finance and Treasury Harry Kuma, announced in Parliament last week that the government will increase allocation to the ministry of health and medical services.
“Despite limited Government resources and the focus towards growth, we are also making prudent allocation of resources to other essential services.
“Under Health and Medical Services, we have increased allocation to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
“These funds will allow the Ministry to rehabilitate certain rural health facilities,” he said.
The Minister said we will secure procurement of critical equipment for the National Referral Hospital.”
“I wish to inform Parliament that resources are secured to complete and launch the operation of the new Computerize Tomography-Scan in the National Referral Hospital in 2020,” he said.
While not really wishing to contest what Minister Kuma reportedly announced in parliament about the DCGA vowing to fund the CT-Scan for the NRH, (for the acquisition of the machine is vitally important), I have to say I am rather surprised by his words given previous notices about the procurement of such a piece of diagnostic equipment and the measures that were being taken to house it.
As one who has been extremely keen to see the NRH obtain a CT-Scan, I have documented and several times published information regarding a possible donor source for the equipment and the plans said to have been drawn up for it to be housed in a special facility at the NRH.
Permit me to relate a couple of my earlier articles to amplify my questioning of Minister Kuma’s announcement.
Article No 1 dated 24 June 2019
In fulfilling a promise made in terms of its 100 Days policy priorities, the Solomon Islands Government, through a Cabinet decision, today, released a press statement saying $17.8 million dollars had been approved to design and build the complex to house the Computer Tomography (CT) scan machine to be acquired for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
As one that has long advocated for a CT scan as a vital investigative tool for the National Referral Hospital I extend my sincere thanks to the Solomon Islands Government and to Lady Potter, the Australian philanthropist, who visited Honiara last year and told the then Prime Minister of her willingness to raise funds to purchase a CT scan on behalf of the Solomon Islands medical services.
Today’s press release from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet read:
“The money will also be used for the management of the CT scan project, and to provide and supply and fit-out minor equipment and accessories needed for the project.
“Following this decision by the Cabinet, important steps will be taken by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services such as advertisements of tender notices for building contractors.
“The selected contractors will be working together with The Solomon Foundation in Sydney together with Siemans Healthineers who is the supplier of the equipment to determine the requirements needed for the building.
“MHMS is anticipating that the CT scan machine is tentatively scheduled to be in operation before the end of 2020.
“The Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCGA) is committed to the delivery of ongoing and prospective policy priorities in the interests of peace, national stability and economic advancement.”
A CT scan or computed tomography scan (formerly computerized axial tomography scan or (CAT scan) makes use of computer-processed combinations of many X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images (virtual “slices”) of specific areas of a scanned object, allowing the user to see inside the object without cutting.
Computed tomography operates by using an X-ray generator that rotates around the object and X-ray detectors are positioned on the opposite side of the circle from the X-ray source. A visual representation of the raw data obtained is called a sinogram, yet it is not sufficient for interpretation. Once the scan data has been acquired, the data must be processed using a form of topographic reconstruction which produces a series of cross-sectional images.
Once the CT scan is installed at the NRH professionally trained personnel will be needed to operate it and it will be advisable to have a maintenance agreement in place with the supplier.
Article No 2 dated 5 August 2019
Writing in the Solomon Star newspaper, today, Bryan Luvena, said the Solomon Islands government, through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has commenced initial work for the establishment of a CT-Scan at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) by November 2020.
Quoting the article, it went on to say:
“This was revealed by the Head of Medical Imaging Department at NRH Dr Aaron Oritaimae in a statement over the weekend.
“As part of the project commencement, a tender has been placed for the design for the new complex and a contractor over the past week.
“Dr Oritaimae said a contractor has been identified to carry out the construction work once the design is approved.
“He said it is expected construction work will take about 14 months before the installation of the equipment which is scheduled to be around November 2020.
“He said a space to construct the new complex to house the CT Scan has been identified.
He added there is now funding commitment from Government for the building.
“The Solomon Foundation which is a charity organization in Australia, led by Lady Primrose Porter has enough funds to procure a new CT machine,” he said.
“As part of preparing for the project two medical officers are currently mid-way in their specialist training and they are expected to qualify as radiologist at the end of next year.
“Three local radiographers have been selected to undergo CT training and they have started with on-line training,” he said.
“Dr Oritaimae added a request for one expatriate radiologist and CT –technologist has been made to Government for recruitment.
“The specific role of these expatriate staff is to support the Medical Imaging Department to establish the services, supervise, mentor and train local staff at the work place, contextualized to local needs and situation,” he said.
“The head of the Imaging Department said once the CT Scan is completed it would benefit the country.
“He highlighted the country is experiencing an epidemiological transition and faces a double disease burden with a high prevalence of communicable diseases and at the same time, rapid growth in the rates of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, ischemic heart disease hypertension, stroke, cancers, neurological conditions, infective conditions and trauma.
“So the challenges to provide an accurate, timely and better assessment of these conditions continue to affect the hospital ability to provide better care,” he said.
“He highlighted that lack of accurate assessment has resulted in patients been referred overseas for CT-scan imaging costing between SBD 20,000-00 to SBD 36,000-00, compared to SBD$970-00, if the service is done locally.
“Dr Oritaimae said the department had documented that between 20-39% presenting to the National referral Hospital per year would require CT–scan imaging for diagnosis, staging and or monitor the progression of diseases.
“We conducted a survey from 2015-2017 and found that during that period, General Surgical Department recorded a total of 4333 admissions, 1043 cases needed CT –imaging (24%).
“Of the 1605 cases admitted through the Emergency Department in 2017, 20 % needed CT-imaging.
“The department of Medicine reported that 1340/3656(36%) patients admitted into the Unit from 2015-2017 required CT-imaging.
“The current high prevalence of Non-Communicable disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, Ischemic heart disease, increasing cancers are complex diseases with comorbid conditions that would benefit from CT assessments,” he said.
“He added CT assessment and results help informs Doctors on the likely causes, extend and complications.
“These information provided to the Doctors in a timely manner, guides the Doctor in making effective clinical decisions,” he said.
“The CT Scan project comes under the National Health Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
“Dr Oritaimae said the CT Scan project was recommended for implementation since 2012. But due to huge cost and lack of Government’s commitment, it has never been implemented.
“In addition, it was generally felt that the timing was not right to establish such a services which is highly technical and it would require resources and capacity to establish and maintain.
“In 2018, it was felt that the timing was right to establish the service. There was a full commitment from the Government and the capacity to establish and maintain the services was evident and appears feasible,” he said.”
I, too, express my very grateful thanks to the Solomon Foundation and to Lady Primrose for such a generous donation of funds to acquire the much needed CT scan for use at the NRH.