Research reveals Australia Awards scholarships are supporting emerging leaders in the health sector in Solomon Islands to improve health outcomes in local communities.
Australian Council for Educational Research staff working on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility recently visited Solomon Islands to research the long-term impact of a group of Australia Awards alumni who studied health degrees in Australia in the mid to late 2000s.
Their research reveals that alumni developed a broad range of skills on-award that were used on their return to improve health services to Solomon Islander communities. These skills include specific health-related expertise in infectious diseases and epidemiology, dental care, health education and health policy, as well as broader skills such as leadership and critical thinking.
Researchers found that Australia Awards alumni are contributing to:
- leadership in a broad range of areas within the health sector
- knowledge sharing in the workplace and in the wider community
- national policy development and improved practices in the health sector
- improved health outcomes for Solomon Islanders.
Australia has a longstanding relationship with the Solomon Islands Government and has funded improvements to the quality and access of universal health care in the region. Although there have been significant improvements in maternal and child mortality rates in recent years, many challenges still remain, with children still dying of preventable diseases due to poor sanitation and a lack of access to clean drinking water and medicine.
The report found that Australia Awards alumni are making a valuable contribution to improving maternal and child health, as well as professional development training in the health sector and health advocacy. ■