In 2003, Julie Zinihite was just beginning her pharmacy career and seven years later, in 2010, she became the first Solomon Islands female to be appointed Chief Pharmacist at the National Referral Hospital.

As chief pharmacist, Julie manages nearly 45 staff across 15 facilities providing medical supplies to 310 health facilities including the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, provincial hospitals, health clinics and nurse aid posts across the Solomon Islands.

Julie is the secretary for the National Drugs and Therapeutics Committee which determines what medicine can be used and made available in Solomon Islands. She then works closely with National Medical Stores, which procures stores and distributes all drugs and medical equipment through 14 second level medical stores throughout Solomon Islands.

AusAID, through support to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, funds the National Medicines Stores, as well as providing technical support for the national pharmacy division. During the last seven years, Australian volunteers have also worked at the hospital pharmacy.

According to Julie, the changes to medicine stock control in Solomon Islands have improved access to essential medicine across the country.

"In 2003, the National Medical Stores held under 50% of critical medicine stock-lines but this year, it holds 92% of required supplies. We've gone from an ad-hoc approach to a proper stock control and distribution system." said Julie.

"This is helping ensure people have access to essential medicines when they need them, and we've also been able to train staff to ensure the medicine is used responsibly."

"Increasing staff skills is a priority and last year, over 200 nurses from all the provinces took part in stock management and training, using a reference book we produced in 2009 to assist pharmacy and nursing staff."

Despite her busy role, it's common to see Julie dispensing medicine at the national referral hospital pharmacy and sharing her knowledge with pharmacy officers. She credits much of her early clinical learning and management training from these Australian volunteer pharmacists and advisors at the hospital. She now has the job of supervising new volunteers.

"Since I've been at the hospital, I've been grateful for the help given from many Australian volunteers and advisers working to improve health services in Solomon Islands. This support, together with my-on-the job training, my studies, the support of my family and my Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to succeed."

"I never thought that I would end up supervising Australian volunteers working at the hospital, so we've completed a full circle."

Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands