Albino Bobogare and Makiva Tuni shared their community participation experiences at the APMEN Community Engagement meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Care Smith-Guyeye helped prepare this summary of their presentation
Solomon Islands is a country in the West Pacific, neighboring Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. The country is known for its rugged environment and remote populations, where boats are used as the main transportation across many islands. Farming and fishing are the main means of subsistence. Healthy Island Settings approach is the main priority in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services 2011 to 2015 strategic plan.
Ysabel Province has approximately 200 villages with slightly more than 20,000 total inhabitants. This province has a malaria elimination goal. The community engagement in Ysabel is supported by three pillars: First, a history of tradition and community participation at the local level, whereby populations respect the â€œchiefly culture.â€ Second, the Anglican Church through their womenâ€™s groups (Motherâ€™s Union) plays a strong role â€“ 95% of the population follows this religion. Last, the provincial government through the provincial health services, the VDCP, health promotion division, Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM), and the Pacific Malaria Initiative Support Center (PacMISC) support community engagement efforts. In addition, engagement of youths is important.
The main activities of the community engagement strategy are school and health facility supervisory visits, village and community visits, Church groups (Motherâ€™s Unions), RAM tool program, and the â€˜Tidy Villageâ€™ competition. Provincial health school visits are conducted by a provincial public health team lead by a Health Promotion officer with close support from the VBDCP to travel and provide education, and a teacher training booklet and other relevant materials were developed and used.
Health village visits are also conducted and have a syllabus and IEC materials, integrated health committees, ownership of community is considered strong in this province. The Tidy Village competition is based on criteria of health and sanitation. Awards are given for the winners of the competition.
Funding has primarily originated from RAM, Ministry of Health and Global Fund funding with some support from PacMISC, AusAID.
These activities have led to a sustained implementation of source reduction for malaria control and other public health related diseases, and in building political advocacy and expectations of leaders. Challenges to these methods include the lack of supervisory visits because of lack of staff. Plans for the future are to adopt these activities in other provinces and continue and expand the educational component beyond school settings.