There are minimal data available on critical care case-mix, care processes and outcomes in lower and middle income countries (LMICs). The objectives of this paper were to gather data in the Solomon Islands in order to gain a better understanding of common presentations of critical illness, available hospital resources, and what resources would be helpful in improving the care of these patients in the future.
This study used a mixed methods approach, including a cross sectional survey of respondents' opinions regarding critical care needs, ethnographic information and qualitative data.
The four most common conditions leading to critical illness in the Solomon Islands are malaria, diseases of the respiratory system including pneumonia and influenza, diabetes mellitus and tuberculosis. Complications of surgery and trauma less frequently result in critical illness. Respondents emphasised the need for basic critical care resources in LMICs, including equipment such as oximeters and oxygen concentrators; greater access to medications and blood products; laboratory services; staff education; and the need for at least one national critical care facility.
A large degree of critical illness in LMICs is likely due to inadequate resources for primary prevention and healthcare; however, for patients who fall through the net of prevention, there may be simple therapies and context-appropriate resources to mitigate the high burden of morbidity and mortality. Emphasis should be on the development and acquisition of simple and inexpensive tools rather than complicated equipment, to prevent critical care from unduly diverting resources away from other important parts of the health system.