Biographical entry: Pikacha, Junilyn (1992 - 2009)

12 November 2009


Junilyn Pikacha was the nation's first female medical practitioner. She was born Junilyn Galo on 25 December 1952, the first of nine children of Paul Galo, a schoolteacher at Ruruvai Primary School, and his wife Noge. Between 1954 and 1957, the family moved to Papua New Guinea where her father taught at Konkavul Seventh-day Adventist district school in New Hanover, and in the North Bismarck Mission. Between 1967 and 1970, Junilyn attended Kambubu Secondary School and in 1971 Sopas Nursing School in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Her results were good and she received a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Papua New Guinea between 1972 and 1978. While there she married fellow student Douglas Pikacha. The first of her children were born while she was still a student: Patrick in 1974 and Nola in 1978. Her first medical position was at Nonga Hospital at Rabaul, where her husband was the Registrar. A year later the couple moved to Kimbe and Biala in West New Britain, and then in 1981 they relocated to the hospital at Kerema in Gulf Province. Although Junilyn preferred surgery, her husband chose that as his specialization and so she decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology instead.

In 1981 the family returned to the Solomon Islands, and between 1982 and 1984 served at 'Atoifi Adventist Hospital in Kwaio in east Malaita. In 1985 the couple moved to Honiara and began working at the Central Hospital. From August 1987 until December 1988 the family lived in Honolulu, where Junilyn and her husband completed Masters in Public Health degrees at the East-West Centre at the University of Hawai'i. They returned to the Solomon Islands in 1988, and until 2009 Junilyn served at the Reproductive Health Department of what had become the National Referral Hospital. Her third child, Douglas, was born in 1992. For some years she also operated a private health clinic that specialised in women's health. She became the Director of Maternal and Child Health and her husband Dr Douglas Pikacha became Director of Surgery. In 2008 Dr Junilyn Pikacha was diagnosed with cancer, and she died on 12 November 2009. (SS 15 Nov. 2010; Patrick Pikacha, personal communication, Dec. 2009)

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