This was a one week trip to the Solomon Islands with the aim to teach safe laparoscopic surgery at National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara, and also at Gizo Hospital in the far Western Province.  The plan was also to visit the much smaller Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda, and do some non-laparoscopic surgery.

Honiara had not before had laparoscopic equipment or done any laparoscopic surgery with this trip being the first. Many thanks to the generous donation of a laparoscopic stack and equipment from Olympus which arrived by shipping container sent by DAISI a month earlier, we were able to conduct a three day laparoscopic workshop at NRH.  It consisted of six overseas specialists including four colorectal surgeons Dr Matt Rickard, Dr Robert Winn, Dr Steve Smith & Dr Gary McKay, and two anaesthetists Dr Mark Lucey and Dr Eric Yip.  Nurses Fran Fuller and Petrina Whiley from Westmead Private Hospital, and wardsman Seamus Williams also volunteered. 

IMG_5364Above photo of shipping container with laparoscopic equipment being unloaded at National Stores, Honiara first day of laparoscopic workshop.


Left to right: Erina Yip, Seamus Williams, Fran Fuller, Roshini McKay & Dr Gary McKay unpacking shipping container.

On arrival to Honiara we were fortunate to be welcomed by Dr Rooney Jagilly (Medical Superintendent at NRH), and  had a meeting with the Health Minister Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaitu’u (see below).

DAISI team with Solomon Islands Health Minister

Left to right: Dr Steve Smith, Dr Robert Winn, Hon Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaitu’u, Solomon Island’s Health Minister, Dr Matt Rickard, Dr Ronney Jagilley (Medical Superintendent at NRH), Dr Gary McKay, Dr Mark Lucey & Dr Eric Yip.

The first day was a day of lectures on laparoscopy with the focus on teaching safe technique for performing diagnostic laparoscopy, laparoscopic appendicectony & laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It was well attended by all surgeons and trainees from NRH.

robert winn teaching safe principles of laparoscopic surgery at NRH

Colorectal surgeon Dr Robert Winn from Wollongong Hospital teaching principles of safe technique for laparoscopic surgery at laparoscopic workshop at NRH, Honiara.

With the aid of a laparoscopic trainer donated by Applied a simulated teaching session was possible for all the local surgeons and surgical trainees.

laparoscopic trainer

Left to Right: General Surgeon Dr Douglas Pikacha, Dr Chris Siotta and Surgical Registrars Dr Jimmy Denton & Dr Sylvester Kohia using lap trainer.

Due to the delay in arrival of laparoscopic equipment the afternoon was spent teaching fistula surgery by colorectal surgeons Dr Matt Rickard (Concord Hospital) Dr Stephen Smith (John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle), Dr Robert Winn (Wollongong Hospital) & Dr Gary McKay (Ryde Hospital).


Dr Matt Rickard (centre) teaching fistula surgery to Surgical trainees at NRH. Dr Robert Winn and Dr Steve Smith observing.


Let to right: Anaesthetist Dr Mark Lucey (from RPA & Mater hospital, Sydney) and Eric Yip (from SAN & Ryde hospital, Sydney) providing anaesthesia during fistula surgery.

Dr Douglass Pikacha on right doing first lap cholecystectomy at NRH

Left to right: Dr Gary McKay (General Surgeon) assisting Dr Douglas Pichaca to do the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy at NRH.

Day two and three at NRH consisted of all day laparoscopic workshops in the OT teaching safe open Hasson technique for inserting laparoscopic trochars, and basic procedures such as diagnostic laparoscopy, appendicectomy and cholecystectomy. Seven cases were done over the two days.  Local surgeons Dr Douglass Pikacha (see below) did the first case (laparoscopic cholecystectomy), Dr Scott Siota did the second case (laparoscopic appendicectomy), and Dr Rooney Jagilly did the third case (diagnostic laparoscopy).  This 3 day starter course will hopefully be the catalyst for future regular laparoscopic visits to teach and improve on skills already taught.

robert winn and douglas pikacha with matt rickard watching

From left to right: Dr Matt Rickard watching as Dr Robert Winn & Dr Douglass Pikacha (Surgeon from NRH) enter abdomen for laparoscopic appendicectomy.

Nurse volunteers Petrina Whiley and Fran Fuller from Westmead Private Hospital, scrubbing up at NRH, Honiara.

This was the first DAISI trip to visit more than one hospital. DAISI was extremely fortunate to have volunteer surgeon Dr Douglas Pikacha attend the trip to Gizo, and anaesthetist Dr Jack Puti and surgical trainee Dr Clay Siosi attend the Helena Goldie Hospital  trip in Munda

Day four and five was spent screening and operating at Helena Goldie Hospital (HGH) Munda and Gizo hospital in the far Western Province.

Gizo hospital at dusk

The beautiful Gizo hospital at Dusk.

Dr Steve Smith (colorectal surgeon from Newcastle) led the mission to Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda, with anaesthetist Dr Jack Puti and surgical trianee Dr Clay Siosi from NRH in Honiara.

dr stephen smith at helena goldie hospital (HGH) Munda, Solomon Islands

Left to right: Dr Steve Smith, scrub nurse, surgical registrar Dr Clay Siosa, scrub nurse Titus, Dr Jack Puti (anaesthetist), and Gladys (anaesthetic nurse) at Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda.

Dr Jack Puti anaesthetist unpacking gear

Volunteer anaesthetist Dr Jack Puti unpacking donated equipment at HGH, Munda.


All but three of of us arriving at Nasatupe airport, Gizo.

Dr Douglas Pikacha teaching Jahrad Liligeto

Surgical registrar Dr Jahrad Liligeto learning surgery from Senior Surgeon Dr Douglass Pikacha at Gizo hospital

douglas pichaka doing lap appendix

Dr Douglas Pikacha doing laparoscopic appendicectomy at Gizo hospital with Dr Robert Winn and scrub nurse Fran Fuller from Westmead Hospital (left).

lalitha and fran fuller in Gizo CSSD

Left to right: Nurse Lalitha Sasa with scrub nurse Fran Fuller about to sterilise laparoscopic equipment between cases.

steve smith teaching hysterectomy to Jenny Sigoto

Left to right:  Lynette Fahmy (4th year USyd medical student), Clayton Dalano (OT nurse manager), Dr Matt Rickard, Dr Jenny Sigoto  (O&G registrar from Gizo hospital) doing open hysterectomy, Dr Mark Lucey (anaesthetist) Dr Steve Smith teaching, and scrub nurse Henao Boara (from Gizo hospital).

The last day was a Saturday and was spent operating in the morning with recreation (fishing and snorkelling) in the afternoon.


Nurses Roshini, Fran Fuller & Petrina Whiley coming back from market in back of pick-up truck with daily groceries.

petrina lilitha fran and roshini at naqua hotel

Petrina Whiley, Lalita Sasa, Fran Fuller & Roshini McKay at farewell dinner.


Farewell photo at farewell dinner Naqua hotel.


Final boat trip to Nasatupe (Gizo) airport . Left to right: Roshini Mckay, Dr Mark Lucey & Dr Steve Smith.

Dr Matt Rickard & Dr Robert Winn stayed on a few more days to climb a volcano at Kolombangara island. Photos were limited as Robs phone fell in the water at the first river crossing! 


Dr Matt Rickard taking shelter during their two day treck up mt Kolombangara.


Dr Matt Rickard & Dr Rob Winn during climb of mt Kolombangara


DAISI TRIP # 4  NRH & Gizo 


Gizo (16 cases)
NRH (7 majors)
Munda (10 cases)

1 major,
3 internediate
6 minors