Solomons Turns Down Offer To Renovate Operating Rooms

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Health Infrastructure adviser rejects local company’s plan

By Biriau Wilson Saeni

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 10, 2016) – A kind-hearted donation that should get the two closed operating theatres at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) up and running within a week was turned down over the weekend.

Tropic Glass and Aluminium (TGA) Limited, a locally owned company, was shocked last Saturday when its offer to renovate the two closed operating theatres was turned down by an expatriate Health Infrastructure adviser, Michael Green, who works at the Ministry of Health.

Director and owner of TGA, Justin Fuo’o, said after reading about the operating theatres in the Solomon Star last week, he stepped in by offering to renovate the theatres for free.

His company involves in construction and hardware supplies.

Last Saturday after discussions with the responsible health authorities, Mr Fuo’o dispatched his team to start renovation work, which he said according to his time table, should take them a week to complete.

He said the materials for the renovation are all set and his team is 100% ready to fix the theatres at an estimated cost of $300,000 [US$ 36,750].

However, Mr Fuo’o said when his team arrived at the NRH, the Health Infrastructure adviser Michael Green stopped them from doing the work.

Mr Green refused to comment when the Solomon Star contacted him yesterday to clarify his action.

Mr Fuo’o said after the encounter at the hospital on Saturday, he decided to withdraw this team from the site and also his proposed support for the renovation work.

"As a local business man I saw in the paper that the operating theatres were closed. I raised my hand to help because I know that many of my country men, women and children will be suffering as a result," he said.

"But when the health infrastructure adviser stopped my company from doing the voluntary work, which supposed to cost the Ministry of Health nothing, I was very upset with the decision so I have to pull back my support," he added.

Yesterday morning the Health Infrastructure adviser went and personally apologise to Mr. Fuo’o for stopping this company from doing the renovation work, but it was too late as he had already made his decision.

Meanwhile, information received by this paper yesterday said that clinician at the operating theatres also voice their disappointment at the decision made by Mr Green to stop TGA from doing the renovation work, and they questioned Mr Green’s action.

The renovation would should have completed this coming Saturday had TGA was allowed to do the work.

The two operating theatres were closed since December due to their state of disrepair.

Despite assurances from health authorities to do the repair work sooner, nothing has been done since.

Dr Paul Hitchin, an Orthopaedic Surgeon from Sydney, Australia, who is currently working at the hospital, told the Solomon Star the closure of the operating theatres means more patients are missing out on important surgeries.

"This is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible to allow patients that need surgery to have access to the operating Theatres.

"Many patients booked to undergo surgery have had their bookings cancelled since the theatres closed last December," he said.

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