The Ministry of Health of Medical Service (MHMS) at the outset would like to express sympathy with family members and friends of the young girl, late Linta Mabo who passed away early this month and stand in salute to all who strived hard to get her to Australia for the much-needed operation that could have saved her life.
However, with recent media articles (see below links) on the matter accusing the Ministry and the National Referral Hospital for not making the necessary arrangements in time that had led to the death of the young girl, is not only unfair but misleading by implying that the ministry through the NRH did not do its job.
The NRH Overseas Referral Committee (ORC) responsible for facilitating overseas referrals, upon reviewing the case of Ms. Mabo had informed her parents and family members, like it does for many other cases throughout the year, that there is no money to send their child overseas for treatment and as such they will need to mobilize funds themselves.
In fact, after the 10 bed arrangements ceased, all overseas referrals were mostly done through funds mobilized by family members themselves.
Hence, the support sort from the Solomon Forestry Association (SFA) as primary financier for the treatment , fundraisings drives by family members and friends including support from Frank Short, Former Solomon Islands Police Commissioner who has also been trying to help in this regard in arranging for hospital placement through his networks.
The NRH ORC upon its preliminary submission for Australia visa was rejected due to lack of funding assurance from SFA.
So basically, all medical related requirements for her travel completed except for those related to immigration or entry requirements. This includes an official letter from sponsor that they will fund the young girl’s treatment in Australia as opposed to only an email confirmation as was the case. Family are to provide account details or statement of an account as proof of financial capacity for travelling to and fro Australia, accommodation and pocket money. These are prerequisites for exemption and visa to enter into Australia that were not met.
Since, NRH is not responsible to meet the expenses; it is the burden of the family and sponsors to provide the documentations to proof financial capacity to ORC for acquiring of exemption and visas.
These were communicated to the mother and relatives of Ms. Mabo including the sponsor, in the past months. Unfortunately, the official confirmation letter from sponsor was yet to be received and account details to fund other expenses only came through the week Ms. Mabo pass away.
The role of the NRH ORC is to mainly support in administering patient travel by obtaining necessary personal documents from patients and relatives, acceptance letter from overseas specialists or hospitals and make submissions for visas and this includes evidence of financial capacity to live in Australia.
At the backdrop of this, the current COVID-19 global pandemic in Australia has made it difficult to find hospital placements for many of our patients needing treatment there. Many patients, even those approved by the NRH ORC in 2020 for overseas travel and treatment are still in queue for placements with hospitals abroad, due to high bed demand in Australia caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.