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Pidjin paradise

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 01 September 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:0309334
  1. Sammy Radstone, final year medical student1
  1. 1University of Birmingham

Sammy Radstone shares her experience of the Solomon Islands. Look out for the bigfala mangoes

The Solomon Islands, a tiny country made up of 992 islands in the Pacific Ocean, is where I chose to do my elective. The population is mostly Melanesian, whose forbears migrated from Papua New Guinea. The ancient traditions of worshipping ancestors, headhunting, and cannibalism were gradually eroded during the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the arrival of missionaries from the West. The second world war saw fierce battles between Japanese and American troops raging around the islands, especially Guadalcanal, and much now rusted military equipment still remains. The islands achieved independence from Britain on 7 July 1978, and the country remained relatively peaceful until 2000, when ethnic tensions erupted. Although the violence was predominantly restricted to a few islands, the entire country has experienced an economic downturn and a huge decline in the limited amount of tourism it once had. The Solomon Islands is now one of the poorest countries in the south Pacific.


Equipment and privacy in short supply

I arranged to do a five week placement at Helena Goldie Hospital on the island of New Georgia. The hospital has 55 beds serving a population of around 35 000 people. It is primarily funded by the United Church of the Solomon Islands, which means it is better funded than many of the hospitals in the country with donations from churches overseas (you do not have to be Christian to do an elective here). But …

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