BY CHRIS ALEX
IN the past, patients at the Honiara’s National Referral Hospital who needed a reliable radiology service had to wait hours, weeks, or even months to receive x-ray screening results of complications regarding the health status of their body from a radiologist specialist.
But not anymore. Just recently, a new private health clinic called Frontier Radiology Health Center has opened its doors at the Mokolo building near the Mataniko River in Honiara, giving expert initial advice to patients and providing expert imaging services to people with injuries, complications affecting the conditions of their body.
SUNDAY ISLES takes a look into the education journey and working life of the country’s first radiologist specialist, Dr. A’aron Oritaimae, and owner of Frontier Radiology Health Center.
In the Solomon Islands, to be raised in a rural setting in the early 60s can be tough at times for locals where access to quality services like education is sometimes hard to find but for some, it’s quite a different story.
Born to devoted catholic parents from the region of West Are’are in the Malaita province, Radiologist Dr. Oritaimae, 56, spent his early childhood days with his parents, who volunteered as catholic missionaries in the early 60s to spread the gospel of Christ to various islands in the country.
He initially attended his formal primary education at Wainoni and later at Pawa in Makira/Ulawa province, whilst accompanying his parents (both mum and dad) on their catholic assigned mission to the Isles of Uginimasi (Ugi Island).
“My parents use to go from island to island so I attended primary schools in places like Makira, Malaita, and Honiara,” Dr. Oritaimae said.
Not until the time when he reached his secondary level of education that he noticed a strong attachment to science as his favorite subject. He began to realize that scientific knowledge is so valuable, important, and helpful when it comes to human health.
Back in his days in secondary school, Radiologist Dr. Oritaimae recalled comparing science similar to the work of his parents which is to spread God’s truth, and saving lost souls, and restore spiritual lives within the islands.
“Life is not worthy without scientific knowledge, and it’s also a valuable tool to human life.
“After all, I decided to become a doctor in form 6 and form 7 when I began to understand how scientific knowledge is so important in life today,” he recalled.
After years of medical studies overseas, Dr. Oritaimae graduated and return to the country to do his internship and residency training at Honiara’s national referral hospital and later posted to Gizo hospital, and Kilufi hospital to do his first practice as a qualified doctor of general medicine.
“I use to go out to work in other provinces like Gizo hospital, Western province, and Kilufi hospital, Malaita province to work as a general doctor,” he said.
After spending several years working as General Doctor, Dr. Oritaimae left the country in 1998 to undergo a specialty medical study in radiology in Sydney, Australia, and later returned to become Solomon Islands’ first qualified radiologist at the national referral hospital.
“I graduated as a Radiologist in Sydney, Australia in 1998 and when I returned to the country, I got my promotion and become the head of the x-ray department at the national referral hospital in Honiara.
“Head of the Radiology Department of NRH is a position, I undertook for 30 years,” Dr. Oritaimae said.
CT Scanner Project…
In 2001, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the National Referral Hospital (NRH) officially launched a new CT scan building at the National Referral Hospital (NRH), Dr. A’aron Oritaimae was the key person behind the project.
“I initiated the plan for the CT scanner project for almost 9 years and apply for funding unfortunately there is no positive response from the responsible authorities until this year our government managed to pay for it,” he told SUNDAY ISLES.
Dr. Oritaimae previously described the project as a long marathon with years of planning and work. He however said with renewed commitment and serious considerations by parliament and the government, the project has picked up and is set for completion by end of 2001.
“It is reassuring to note great support from both the government and the opposition to make this happen. Thus this CT project has now become a national health priority project, supported fully by parliament and the government.”
Starting Up Frontier Radiology Health Centre…
Radiologist specialist Dr. Oritaimae told SUNDAY ISLES that over the past three decades, he had to renew his contract as the Head of the Radiology Department of Honiara’s National Referral Hospital (NRH).
He felt that it was now the right time to stop working at the NRH’s Radiology Department of Honiara’s National Referral Hospital and to set up his privately owned radiology clinic, a first of its kind in the country, which bears the business name – Frontier Radiology Health Centre.
“I took that decision because I thought it is enough for that long, it has been almost 30 years and it is time to offer my hands and work for my family’s needs.
Dr. Oritaimae said the vision of the Centre is to provide the highest level of care to enhance health services delivery in the country, especially to local patients.
“Our vision is to provide our patients affordable, high-quality diagnostic x-ray-ultrasound, and medical services, all in a one-stop medical centre,” he said.