I am a US physician and I work in the Solomon Islands where there is one doctor for 20,000 people. There is malaria, TB and a low but steadily climbing incident of HIV/AID. The organization I work with, the Loloma Foundation, is developing a training program in country to correct this shortage in a sustainable way. It requires funding to do. There has been no meaningful US government funding to this area in over 15 years. US AID is non-existent in the Solomon Islands. During recent devastating floods on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands the US sent $50,000. With $51 Billion dollars allotted for International Affairs and $36 Billion dollars for Foreign Operations surely some of that money can be directed to the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands country is a fledgling democracy that is struggling especially during this economic downturn. The Asia Development Bank lists the Solomon Islands as one of two of the most economically precarious countries in the Pacific region. Some Australian sources refer to the country as a failed state. It does not have to be this way for the 500,000 people of this island nation. An infusion of USG aid in healthcare and development, something that has been absent since 1978, could sure up its government and industry.
The US has strong historic ties with this region of the world. During the Pacific Campaign of WWII US soldiers fought and died on these islands and in the waters around these islands. My own family history has brought me to the work I am doing in the Solomon Islands and to the hopes of expanding on it. My mother's brother Bill Stack died during the battle of Savo Island on 8/9/1942 when his ship the USS Quincy CA-39 was sunk. The Solomon's are not only the final resting place for a lot of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, but were also places where Solomon Islanders--at great risk to their own lives--saved the lives of many Americans who were shot down or managed to get ashore from sunken ships or who were lost in the jungles. Perhaps the most famous example of this is that of President John F Kennedy. Solomon Islanders were also a part of the Coast watchers providing allied forces with valuable information about Japanese troop movements.
For what the Solomon Islanders did for us we owe them a debt of gratitude. We also need to reassure WWII veterans in the twilight of their lives that they will not be forgotten. We can do this by aiding in the development and health in the country where they served. I see it as a "Living Memorial" to those men that served and died there. Our country supports democratic governments that foster freedom, both of which the Solomon Island exhibits as best they can. Our government should be supportive of theirs. The State Department and US AID can and must change their policy (or lack there of) as it applies to the Solomon Islands. Our foreign operations and aid funding sources must commit to assisting the Solomon Islands. I know this can be done especially if it comes from the administrative level as well as the legislative level.
Dr Eileen Natuzzi
Loloma Foundation/ William Moore Stack Foundation