The Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands is a beautiful country made up of 6 main islands and 900 smaller islands, which span over 28,400 square kilometres. Approximately 650,000 people call the Solomon Islands home, a majority living in rural villages. The sheer remoteness of the islands and the large volume of people living away from major centres makes health service provision in the Solomon Islands very challenging.
Motivation Australia’s (MA) engagement with the Solomon Islands first began in 2009, at the request of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Rehabilitation Division, to explore the potential for strengthening wheelchair services. The MHMS and MA then worked together to develop a wheelchair services pilot, the first pilot MA was ever involved with in the Pacific and a pioneering step in MA’s involvement in the Pacific.
Additionally, in 2009, MA and People with Disabilities Solomon Islands (PWDSI) trialled the first use of the Worldmade rough terrain and Worldmade four wheel wheelchairs. Thanks to the leadership shown by PWDSI these wheelchairs are now commonplace throughout the Pacific.
Currently MA is working with the Solomon Islands MHMS on the Pacific Wayfinders and Pacific Leaders projects, aiming to strengthen wheelchair service provision and diabetic foot care in the Solomon Islands and empowering local services through tailored training and mentoring.
Disability related statistics and information:
• The 2009 Solomon Islands National Population and Housing Census reported that 14 percent of the total population were living with a disability in the Solomon Islands.
• In 2008, 41% of years of life lost in the Solomon Islands were attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This figure is growing, with an increase in the number of NCDs in the Solomon Islands creating a double disease burden when combined with the already high prevalence of communicable diseases (WHO, 2012).
• ‘Almost half of all health expenditure in the Solomon Islands comes from donors. But much of that funding has targeted specific diseases, rather than strengthening the country’s health system and improving overall services.’ (WHO, 2017)
• In September 2008 the Solomon Islands became a signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), although not yet ratified, the People with Disabilities in Solomon Islands organisation are helping work towards ratification as well as advocation for the rights of people living with a disability.