The NRH Paediatrics team using the Guideline Host app in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Until recently, health professionals in the Solomon Islands had limited access to independent, evidence-based, therapeutic information, either due to the lack of availability, remoteness, or because access was so prohibitively expensive.
Thanks to a partnership of Therapeutic Guidelines Foundation (TGF) with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Medicines & Therapeutics Committee (NMTC), health practitioners in the Solomon Islands now have free smartphone access to their own Solomon Islands Guidelines Host app.
The Therapeutic Guidelines Foundation (TGF) original program was established in 2007 to support the quality use of medicines and development and distribution of guidelines in less developed counties, including many of those in the South Pacific.
However, for many it was still inaccessible, with conventional copper wire and fibre-optic cable based technology difficult to role out to this nation of almost one thousand islands spanning more than 27,000 square kilometres.
In recent years significant developments have occurred in satellite network telecommunication technology. This has resulted in a skyrocketing increase in the use of mobile phones in the country, particularly amongst young adults, who make up more than 60% of the Solomon Island’s population.
With this new technology, even the most remote regions of the Solomon Islands now have relatively speedy access to internet with smartphones now the principle modus operandi for accessing the internet in the country.
In May 2018, the first edition of the Solomon Islands Guidelines Host app for smartphone was launched. A few teething issues were encountered and tweaked, and on 21 January 2019 the updated version of the Solomon Islands Guidelines Host app was released.
This app was developed to make local guidelines easily accessible for health practitioners at the point of care. This is particularly important for the Solomon Islands, where the provincial hospitals and medical centres are quite remote, and otherwise cut off from the National Referral Hospital in the capital city Honiara. Without this app and technology, dedicated staff and resources and local health professionals would need to be invested in developing local guidelines. Barriers to printing and distributing hard copies of these guidelines would then result in poor dissemination, and usage of these guidelines.
Old hard copy guidelines now available in app form and tailored to the Solomon Islands.
This app has not only therapeutic drugs practice guidelines but also practice guidelines for most specialty areas such as paediatrics, emergency medicine, medical oncology and obstetrics and gynaecology. It also gives access to the nation’s Essential Medicines List (EML) and medical equipment formulary.
In addition to free access to these resources, the app provides regular clinical updates tailored specifically to the Solomon Islands, with local guideline development made in consultation and collaboration with the Solomon Islands MOH and NMTC.
“Having access to multiple local treatment guidelines on ones’ phone anytime improves the efficiency and effectiveness by which a Solomon Islands health workers can treat their patients and thus improves the quality of care they provide, ” says Dr Rooney Jagilly, a seniour surgeon from National Referral Hospital, in Honiara who made significant contributions to the guidelines contained in the app. “I would like to thank Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd for their kind assistance in supporting us in this regard.” Not to forget also the significant contribution also made by the late Permanent Secretary Dr Tenneth Dalipanda.
This app is also incredibly valuable for so many reasons. It serves for teaching purposes, and for setting standards and policies amongst the wide distribution of health practitioners throughout the nine provinces. With a growing number of new and relatively “green” overseas medical graduates returning from Cuba, the app is particularly useful for medical decision making providing treatment algorithms for common complaints for the less experienced doctor.
The app and its easy accessibility also allows unity in purpose for visiting overseas specialists volunteers and organisations, of which there are many in the Solomon Islands. The app gives them clear indication of available resources and locally established practices and protocols, potentially making their transition and contribution easier, and more in line with the nation’s key objectives.
With further refinements and additions since, the app is today being disseminated to all visiting overseas specialist volunteers. It is highly recommended to use and become familiar with prior to embarking on a volunteer trip to the Solomon Islands.
We look very much forward to further contributions and updates to the app in the years to come.
For more information on the app, and future updates you can email Ms Reddy Kamini RKamini@nrh.gov.sb or Mr Solomon Bosa SBosa@nrh.gov.sb or the TGF program manager Mieke Hutchinson-Kern firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Dr Sepehr Lajevardi is co-founder of DAISI and previous DAISI Chairman. Dr Sepehr first volunteered in the Solomon Islands in 2015.