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Open Access Research

Child health nurses in the Solomon Islands: lessons for the Pacific and other developing countries

Samantha Colquhoun1*, Divi Ogaoga2, Mathias Tamou2, Titus Nasi2, Rami Subhi1 and Trevor Duke13*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for International Child Health, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, MCRI,, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville,, 3052, Melbourne, Australia

2 Ministry of Health, Solomon Islands

3 School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea

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Human Resources for Health 2012, 10:45  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-10-45

Published: 21 November 2012

Abstract

Objectives

To understand the roles of nurses with advanced training in paediatrics in the Solomon Islands, and the importance of these roles to child health. To understand how adequately equipped child health nurses feel for these roles, to identify the training needs, difficulties and future opportunities.

Design

Semi-structured interviews.

Settings

Tertiary hospital, district hospitals and health clinics in the Solomon Islands.

Participants

Twenty-one paediatric nurses were interviewed out of a total of 27 in the country.

Results

All nurses were currently employed in teaching, clinical or management areas. At least one or two nurses were working in each of 7 of the 9 provinces; in the two smaller provinces there were none. Many nurses were sole practitioners in remote locations without back-up from doctors or other experienced nurses; all had additional administrative or public health duties. Different types of courses were identified: a residential diploma through the University of Papua New Guinea or New Zealand and a diploma by correspondence through the University of Sydney.

Conclusions

Child health nurses in the Solomon Islands fulfill vital clinical, public health, teaching and administrative roles. Currently they are too few in number, and this is a limiting factor for improving the quality of child health services in that country. Current methods of training require overseas travel, or are expensive, or lack relevance, or remove nurses from their work-places and families for prolonged periods of time. A local post-basic child health nursing course is urgently needed, and models exist to achieve this.

Keywords:
Solomon Islands; Child health; Nurses; Developing countries; Pacific Islands