Aussie Research Highlights Aid Achievements In Solomon Islands

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16th March 2009, 01:33pm - Views: 798

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The key to good foreign aid: research highlights aid achievements in

Solomon Islands



Health aid contributes 60% of funding to the Solomon Islands. The Islands have considerable health

concerns including a double burden of both infectious and chronic diseases. This, coupled with damages

from natural disasters, political instability and tensions between ethnic groups means most Islands in the

Pacific, rely heavily on donations and externally funded programs. According to Australian research

conducted in the Solomon Islands, simple cooperation between agencies and local governments is the

key to good health care aid.

“As more and more agencies work to rebuild and strengthen health services and delivery, it’s vital that

these efforts are coordinated. In some cases there has been little alignment of priorities between the

funding agencies and the local needs of the Solomon’s Ministry of Health,” says lead author Dr Alexandra

Martiniuk at The George Institute for International Health in Australia. 

“But what we are seeing now is a move towards more coordination and longer-term commitment to

improve the health landscape in the Solomon’s. We hope this trend gains pace among more foreign aid


WHO and AusAID are reported as examples of organisations providing good health aid. The Australian

Government’s AusAID program has been flexible with a focus on local priorities. The World Health

Organization (WHO) is also seen as a good partner, who has made some sustainable changes including

long-term training of local health care professionals. Both organisations have set out to base programs on

the Solomon’s government’s National Health Strategic Plan, which was recognised as having real

benefits for health system strengthening and planning.

“We know that coordination of aid in developing countries is important and commitment must be long-

term. This research demonstrates Solomon Islanders’ current needs for health care management skills,

mentorship and the desire to learn more from other Pacific Island nations,” added Dr Martiniuk. 

A response from a local interview with the Ministry of Health included: Initially it was necessary to provide

stop gap measure and fight fires, while now the focus is more towards recovery and development….


Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with government and nongovernment leaders from rural and

urban regions in the Solomon Islands. The respondents suggest it is essential for donors to know current

plans and determine with the Ministry of Health where they may be able to fit in. “If all donors and

partners would support the five-year plan set by the Ministry of Health, resources could be used more

efficiently to achieve greater impact.”

Another local response: “Best way is to ask-what are you planning this year in the region and how can we

help?. [referring to volunteers from overseas]...their flight costs alone are equal to the entire provincial

health construction budget for an entire year.”

“If aid is not coordinated, it can serve to undermine the government reform process and hamper efforts to

build political stability by interfering with systematic policy making and planning. Locals expressed the

desire to strengthen health committees, work towards long-term sustainability and integrating programs,”

added Dr Martiniuk.

The Solomon Islands are the fourth greatest recipient of Australia’s aid (US$4.72m). The Australian

government announced that it would take a lead role in supporting the Solomon Islands health sector by

providing $60 million over five years in March 2008. These funds will include up-scaling its response to

HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in the Pacific by increasing community prevention programs

and expanding testing and treatment.


For further information, please contact:

Emma Orpilla – Public Relations Manager, The George Institute for International Health

Tel: +612 8238 2424/ Mobile: +61410 411 983

Fax: +612 9657 0302/ email:

Notes to editor:

This research was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health. Authors of this paper include

Alexandra Martiniuk, The George Institute for International Health; Heather Millar, The George Institute

for International Health; George Malefoasi Ministry of Health, Solomon Islands; Petra Vergeer, Health

Institutional Strengthening Project, JTA International for the Australian Agency for International

Development; Trevor Garland, Consulate of the Solomon Islands; and Simon Knight, Rotary Club of

Sydney Cove.

The George Institute for International Health is an internationally-recognised health research

organisation, undertaking high impact research across a broad health landscape.  It is a leader in the

clinical trials, health policy and capacity-building areas. The Institute has a global network of top medical

experts in a range of research fields as well as expertise in research design, project management and

data and statistical analysis. With a respected voice among global policy makers, The Institute has

attracted significant funding support from governments, philanthropic organisations and corporations.

George Institute research is regularly published in the top tier of academic journals internationally.

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