Aust’s New Colombo Plan saving lives in Kirakira

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New Colombo Plan Mobility Students, Bianca Rajapakse (L) and Navitha Kathirgamanathan assisting a patient at Kirakira hospital.

FROM averting appendicitis to diagnosing diabetes, it’s clear that Australia’s prestigious New Colombo Plan is truly making a difference to the lives of Solomon Islanders.
Students from Australian universities are being supported by the New Colombo Plan to undertake work placements across Solomon Islands, as part of the program’s Mobility Grant component.
A group of medical students from Australia’s Bond University is currently in Kirakira to help support the delivery of vital medical services.
“It’s an honour to join the hard working staff here at Kirakira Hospital and to offer a helping hand,” said Navitha Kathirgamanathan, a fifth year medical student, who is in Kirakira for her final medical rotation before graduating as a doctor.
“So far we’ve helped diagnose patients with diabetes, treated anaemic babies, supported referrals for people with bursting appendixes and helped with ultrasounds. It’s challenging, but very fulfilling to be helping to make a difference.
“The education system in Australia is world class, and we’re lucky to have some great resources at our disposal to learn our trade.
“It’s nice to be able to share some of what we’ve learned with these very passionate health professionals in Kirakira.
“A lot of the ailments presenting here are quite different to back home. We’re learning a lot about tropical medicine!
“We’ll certainly be returning to Australia with very fond memories and a wealth of new experience.”
The Australian Government recently announced continuing support for the New Colombo Plan in Solomon Islands for 2017, including another 36 students from Bond University, also heading to Makira.
Before then, however, primary teaching students from Australian Catholic University will soon arrive in Solomon Islands to undertake teaching placements at Poposi Primary School and Bishop Epalle School in Savo and Honiara respectively as part of the 2016 cohort of New Colombo Plan scholars.
They will be followed by a group of students from James Cook University that will journey to Atoifi, Malaita, to support the running of a ‘Solo-style Triathlon’.
Melissa Stutsel, Counsellor for Health, Education and Gender at the Australian High Commission in Honiara, joined the Bond University students in Kirakira to experience first-hand the impact the New Colombo Plan is having on the ground.
“The Australian Government has an enduring commitment to supporting development in Solomon Islands.“The New Colombo Plan is a great initiative to help do just that, while building long-lasting people to people links.”

Bond University New Colombo Plan students checking out the pharmacy store at Kirakira Hospital.
Bond University New Colombo Plan students checking out the pharmacy store at Kirakira Hospital.