Party: Assistant Medical Officers/Native Medical Practitioners
- Alternative Names
- Native Medical Practitioners
In 1888, indigenous students began to receive three-year courses in medical training at Suva's Central Hospital, and following from this precedent, the Fiji Medical School was established in 1902. Most of the graduates from its four-year course were Fijian, but there were always a few others from WPHC territories and later also from the New Hebrides. A programme for Native Medical Practitioners (NMPs) was announced in 1928 and began in 1929, subsidised by the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation. The intent was to provide Pacific Islanders with culturally appropriate medical education. A student's first eighteen months were spent in classroom studies, which were then supplemented by clinical and night duties in the hospital. The BSIP paid 10 percent of the costs of maintaining the Central Medical School.
The first Solomon Islander to graduate from the Central Medical School in Fiji was George Bogesi (q.v.) from Isabel Island, in 1931. However, during the Depression years the Protectorate was strapped for funds and, given the elementary standard of education there, there were few suitable candidates. By 1940, there were six NMPs in the Protectorate, five Solomon Islanders and one Fijian. Although their qualifications were not considered equivalent to a Western-trained medical practitioner, the NMPs were able to work unsupervised. They provided much of the medical assistance to the Protectorate's people, and formed a cultural bridge between Western and Solomon Islands knowledge. They were the best-educated Solomon Islanders of their day.
After 1956, their title was altered to Assistant Medical Officers. The school was renamed the Fiji School of Medicine in 1961. Standards increased and by 1964 they were known as Medical Officers (Mos). In 1970, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Surgeons agreed to admit selected graduates of the school to their membership. There is no complete list of names easily available. There is no complete list of Native Medical Practitioners and Assistant Medical Officers who served in the Protectorate. A partial list has been gleaned from this Historical Enclclopaedia: Timothy Bavadra (a Fijian) (q.v.), Peter Beck, George Bogesi (q.v), David Dawea-Taukalo (q.v.), Remisio Eresi (q.v.), J. Ramo Fa'arondo (q.v.), William Tela Fakaomea (q.v), Enele Karuru, R.T. Kera, John Wesley Kere (q.v.), Francis Reginald Kikolo (q.v.), John Kilatau, Daniel Kuata (q.v.), Geoff Kuper, George Ngumi (q.v.), Clement Ofai (q.v.), Guso Rato Piko (q.v.) Marcise Salato (a Fijian), Tambua (a Fijian), Eroni Leauli Taoi (a Fijian), R. Tozaka, Hugh Wheatley, Kitchener Wheatley, Zevanaia, and most famous of all, Gideon Asatori Pitabose Zoloveke (q.v.). Because these Solomon Islanders had the highest level of education, they often became members of Protectorate committees and some were nominated to serve on the Advisory and Executive Councils and the Legislative Council. Others went into politics and stood in elections. (NS 30 Apr. 1958, 31 Aug. 1958; WPHC Colonial Office List, 1940; Boutilier 1974, 34, 36)
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details
- Boutilier, James A., The Role of the Administration and the Missions in the Provision of Medical and Educational Services in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, 1893-1942, Anglican Church of Canada, Church House Library, Toronto, 1974, 75 pp. Details