Collaboration with staff at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara has been a long-term activity for the Australian Not for Profit Organisation, Pacific Region Infectious Diseases Association (PRIDA).
For the past 8 years, prior even to the formation of PRIDA, the relationship has developed through a mutual understanding of the challenges in providing high-quality health care to the Solomon Islands community and a shared vision to improve health outcomes, particularly in relation to infectious disease. Care is taken to ensure all activities are grounded in capacity building through education and mentoring, with focus given to areas identified by NRH (National Referral Hospital) personnel.
PRIDA members have undertaken regular visits to Honiara (once or twice a year) to provide face to face support since 2014. PRIDA works closely with the NRH staff and donor partners to ensure that donated equipment is fit for purpose, can be maintained, and that a supply of consumables is available to ensure sustainable ongoing use of the equipment. Capacity building in the laboratory has also involved bringing the NRH lead microbiology scientist to Australia for training within an Australian diagnostic microbiology laboratory. Our team mentor both local clinicians and pharmacy staff to improve rational use of antibiotics, a key step to preventing development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Our infection control (IPC) specialists work closely with NRH as well as SI ministry of Health IPC staff.
Engagement in the DFAT supported COMBAT-AMR project has allowed for a large multidisciplinary team of PRIDA members to travel Honiara. In November 2022 a team of 9 members undertook a range of activities in support of COMBAT-AMR. The team consisted of 3 Infectious Disease/Microbiology Physicians, 2 Senior Microbiology Laboratory Scientists, a Clinical Pharmacist, and 2 Infection Prevention and Control specialists. We were also joined by a WAH specialist from Wateraid and Surveillance specialist from the WHO collaborating centre for surveillance of AMR.
During their time in Honiara this team undertook a range of activities including daily teaching ward and laboratory rounds, education workshops, auditing activities, and continued to strengthen the relationship between the two organisations. A hospital wide point prevalence study was undertaken to determine rates of multi-drug resistant organism colonisation at NRH, the first of such study in the Pacific region. Work to establish a national local alcohol hand rub production facility continued with a small trial batch produced.
PRIDA has a number of online training programs to improve the microbiology knowledge base in the Asia-Pacific region and provides a foundation for remote support between in-country visits. This includes the PRIDA & PPTC Postgraduate diploma of clinical microbiology for scientists, which is graduating its first year of students this month – 19 students have successfully completed the program, including two SI candidates. For the past 5 years, we have also hosted the popular PRIDA medical microbiology program for doctors working in the Asia-Pacific region. PRIDA host fortnightly journal club as well as pharmacy tutorials for interested healthcare workers in the region.