For many working in the urban centres, the importance of having office vehicles to carry out work may not be much of a big deal, as they are often in adequate supply and also the availability of public transport.

But for those in the provinces, especially our health workers who are serving and saving lives in the rural areas, one vehicle can make all the difference. For our health workers working in the rural areas, a new vehicle is simply regarded as a blessing from God.

This was the case for Atoifi Hospital, in East Kwaio, Malaita province when its health care workers finally received keys to the hospital’s first ever vehicle, a brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser Trooper. Since its establishment, the hospital has been serving the Eastern side of Malaita, from East Areáre to Northeast Malaita and East Fataleka and East Kwarae. However, the hospital has never had its own transport.

Logistics and transport which is critical for referrals are entirely dependent on boat and transport from a nearby health facility, and when the need arises, the hospital resorted to hiring of truck at times.

Dr Zorick Olangi Chief Medical Officer, Atoifi Hospital, explained that this new vehicle will help them to save lives and prevent deaths through swift referrals.

"Recently we lost two patients simply because of difficulties in logistics, that is to get a transport on time to move the patients to Kilufi hospital. Though we managed to get one, they passed away whilst on our way to Kilufi and we had to turn back. This is always difficult for us and each time we also share in their pain and sorrow.”

“Though nearby health facility, Nafinua health centre has a vehicle it is not readily available for us. The option of boat transport takes time and depends on the weather, and hiring of vehicles is very costly (around 2,500 SBD one way).

"Therefore, having our own transport is truly a blessing from God. As we load the vehicle onboard a ship at the Honiara port, many of us were emotional and few were actually in tears as we breathe a sigh of relieve knowing well that we can now finally perform our duties much more effectively in terms of moving patients to Kilufi hospital.

"He explained that road network has not yet reached Atoifi hospital and therefore the vehicle will be parked at the Nafinua Health Facility so Atoifi referrals can be transported by OBM to reach Nafinua health centre where the road is and there the Atofi hospital driver can transport patients to Kilufií hospital."

Dr Olangi thanked the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for recognizing their need and to the World Bank for providing the funding support and technical assistance that enabled the procurement and delivery of the Land Cruiser.

“On behalf of the hospital management and staff, including all within the catchment area of the hospital, a very big thank you from our hearts.”

Health Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil highlighted that a total of 14 similar vehicles have been procured and are in the process of being delivered across provincial health facilities serving in rural and semi-urban areas.

“This investment is part of the overall implementation of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project that is funded by a partnership between the World Bank through the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and implemented through the Ministry of Health’s Project Management Unit. Therefore, a sincere thank you to the World Bank and the Project Management Unit team for the funding support that enabled this handover of the vehicle today."

“Procurement and delivery of these vehicles is also in line with our efforts in the implementation of Role Delineation Policy which is to bring much needed health care services closer to the people. Having a transport and logistic support to move patients in between various levels of health facilities is one-way of contributing towards this goal and as such the decision to deploy these vehicles to these health facilities in the rural areas”, explained Mrs McNeil.

She urged the hospital staff and the people at Atoifi to take good care of the vehicle as it is theirs to serve their health needs of our people in Kwaio there including nearby villages and communities.

Source: MHMS Media