‘Autonomy’ Planned For Solomon Islands National Hospital

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‘Autonomy’ Planned For Solomon Islands National Hospital CEO says hospital currently lacks flexibility in service delivery

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 5, 2014) – A top administrator, Dr Manimu, has welcomed Solomon Islands Government plans to turn the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara into an "autonomous" national hospital.

Dr George Manimu, who is also NRH’s chief executive officer, said the plan if implemented would boost the hospital’s service delivery.

"The plan to do this might bring a lot of public views but the primary idea of an autonomous hospital is essentially to bring effective and efficient delivery of health services to the people," Dr Manimu said.

Government plans to begin working on a legal framework for this new system starting in May this year.

This is in response to the health issues raised in the 2009 parliamentary report, which until today has never been attended to.

Dr Manimu said as it is now, NRH is run by the Ministry of Health and controlled by the government.

"Under the current set up, there is no flexibility and drive to deliver a much efficient and effective health services.

"For instance, anything the hospital requires has to go through a lengthy process before we could get it.

"This does not work well for a hospital that should be fully resourced with manpower, infrastructure, equipment, and medical facilities necessary to provide the best services for people.

"But under an autonomous system, the decisions are made by the board on the basis of the management’s recommendations on what needs to be done.

"So when there is need for any change, the change can be done quickly.

"With the current system, changes cannot be made as quickly as needed due to the inflexibility and lengthy process that takes ages before any changes can be done," Dr Manimu pointed out.

He added that under an autonomous system, any donor funding is given direct to the hospital and not through the Ministry of Health.

The hospital would also manage its own budget.

Dr Manimu also explained that if the hospital becomes autonomous, some services may have to be charged at a reasonable rate to cover operational costs.

He said the national government will continue to fund the operations of the hospital even if it becomes semi-independent institution.

Dr Manimu said those who may form a negative view about this new system could be described as "primitive."

"The attitude of certain people today is to continue to complain and express negative views about the current health system.

"So what do we want? Do we want to continue complaining and accept the status quo or do we want to see positive changes?" Dr Manimu questioned.

He said the country cannot wait to feed from foreign advices that will never work here.

He stressed that it is the sole responsibility of qualified technical people in the country to make collective decision as to how this system could work best for us.

"So by giving some power or authority to the hospital, it will enable the management to quickly fix a pressing issue or solve a need in time to ensure the provision of efficient and effective health services."

Dr Manimu added those who opposed the idea should not compare Solomon Islands with other countries.

"There is no one autonomous system that can be transplanted elsewhere in the world.

"Solomon Islands can do its own.

"It is us who will make our own decisions and drive ourselves forward. We cannot adopt a foreign concept that never works for us," Dr Manimu said.

He added the country has the qualified technical people to put in their contributions towards a workable system for the country.

Dr Manimu expressed his appreciation to the government for recognising that the health system needs a drastic change.

"If this current health system remains, people will continue to complain and expect more health problems."

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Lester Ross said they wanted to see a hospital that offers quality and efficient service to the people.

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