As a part of their final year curriculum, 71 trainee nurses at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE), have received training in disaster management and damage assessment.
Mr Vuli Gauna assisted the facilitation of the Introduction to Disaster Management (IDM) and Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) courses that were held at SICHE in April.
He is the Training Support Officer working with The Asia Foundation and USAID / Office of the US Foreign Disaster Assistance, Pacific Disaster Risk Management Program (PDRMP), based at the SPC/SOPAC campus in Fiji.
“The disaster management training assists the nurses to look at identifying opportunities within community development programmes where prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures can be applied to help in reducing disaster risks."
The damage assessment training provides knowledge and tools on how best to collect and record information for reporting of damage resulting from hazard impacts, which is important for government’s response efforts during any disaster,” said Mr Gauna.
Upon graduation, many of these nurses will take up positions at health centres and nursing stations in the more remote villages and communities, spread throughout the 300 inhabited islands within the Solomon Islands group.
Here, along with their nursing skills, they will be able to share the knowledge and tools acquired in the IDM and IDA training with the local communities.
Well aware of the importance of community involvement in disaster preparedness is the Director of The Asia Foundation’s Pacific Program, Ms Kathryn Hawley who, since the late 90s, has been actively involved in the creation, development and dissemination of a series of Disaster Management courses under the training project, throughout the region.
Ms Hawley explained that the Solomon Islands training initiative, funded by USAID and implemented by SOPAC, now a Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and The Asia Foundation grew out of the support given to the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) when the idea of adding these components to the nursing curriculum was first mooted some seven years ago.
She said that initially, one national trainer took on the role of presenting a series of lessons to classes of 25 final year trainee nurses at SICHE. As class sizes have grown, nine or more local trainers with assistance from a SPC/SOPAC based regional trainer now handle the course delivery. They work in three simultaneous sessions, in an intensive week of interactive exercises.
The national trainers assisting with these course deliveries come from a “pool of trainers that were further developed when we conducted a series of trainings for Provincial Disaster Officers after the Solomon Islands government introduced these positions,” said Ms Hawley.
With the assistance of national trainers in each country, and locally adapted course materials, some of which have been translated into the national language, course delivery also takes place in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
“For other Pacific Island country requests for training through the PDRMP project, SOPAC provides funding support for course delivery through the Division’s Disaster Risk Programme,” said Ms Hawley.