Atoifi to host Second Health Research Symposium this week

Health researchers from across Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, England and Australia will gather at Atoifi Hospital this week to attend the Second Atoifi Health Research Symposium. With the theme of 'Towards Rural and Remote Health Excellence through Research', the Symposium will be held on Tuesday 15 August. Research presentations about detection and treatment of yaws and syphilis, malaria in pregnancy, infection control and patient satisfaction at Atoifi Hospital will be delivered. Reproductive health and community perceptions on skin disease will also be discussed.

Acting Chief Executive Office of Atoifi Hospital, Ms Rowena Asugeni will present about research capacity building for health research and Mr Humpress Harrington will present a session entitled, 'Developing local models to strengthen and improve capacity in health research in Melanesia'.

"This Symposium marks an exciting development for research in Solomon Islands", said Mr Humpress Harrington, who is undertaking his PhD at James Cook University (JCU) exploring appropriate research capacity strengthening models for Pacific contexts. "For Atoifi to be able to host a Symposium in a remote location and present so much locally generated data is a great step forward'.

The Symposium is also the launch of a week-long, DFAT-funded research capacity development workshop being conducted by JCU in partnership by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Solomon Islands. Designed to increase research capacity to address infectious diseases, the workshop is part of a larger program of research across the Pacific (2017-2018).

For more information about the Symposium, please contact rowenaasugeni[at] or humpress.harrington[at]

Photo (courtesy of Dr Michael Marks): Atoifi researchers administering treatment as a part of the Yaws research project. This project is being conducted on Malaita, Solomon Islands in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Leaders discuss research capacity strengthening with WHO TDR

This week Mr Humpress Harrington (Pacific Adventist University) and Dr David MacLaren (James Cook University) have attended a workshop at the University of Nairobi in Kenya to learn more about the WHO TDR ‘Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative’. TDR is the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty.

Humpress and David have witnessed how emerging health researchers in Kenya are being supported through the TDR program, and how the TDR programme could be used to strengthen health research training in the Pacific.

While in Kenya, Humpress and David met with Dr Eddie Kamau from the WHO TDR program. The Atoifi Health Research Group has received two grants from WHO TDR (2014 and 2015), with these grants supporting a series of research training workshops and many of the ‘learn-by-doing’ projects at Atoifi.

During the meeting, key achievements of the Atoifi Health Research Group's grass-roots approach to strengthening research capacity were discussed, and future plans proposed.

For more information about the TDR funded work being conducted by the Atoifi Health Research Group, please email: or

Photo (L-R): Dr Eddie Kamau (WHO TDR), Mr Humpress Harrington (PAU), Dr David MacLaren (JCU)

Media training for Medicinal Plants Project

By Tommy Esau, Researcher

Five members from Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre and two other members from Aru`ilage group in West Kwaio have participated in a video editing training to enable the documenting of traditional medicinal plants. This workshop was run during May for the next phase of Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) funding. The first phase of CEPF funding resulted in the production of the first ever bilingual book (English/Kwaio), concerning the medicinal and cultural uses of 15 plants from the East Kwaio region. Small video clips were also made about the uses of these plants. The second phase will see the book and videos expanded in size and content, with the East Kwaio participants taking the lead in the production.

The training was conducted by Ben Speare (who ran a similar training during 2016) and included topics such as taking footage, camera positing and exposure. The training also covers technical aspects on video editing, software, organizing videos and writing subtitles. The training uses a learn-by-doing approach, where participants actually working on their own videos clips during the field work for the medicinal plants project. This involves organizing different video clips and arranging them to make a story and finally producing little video clips.

Participants have expressed that this is the first time they had a chance to handle a computer and were fortunate to be introduced to this editing program. Maasafi from Kwainaa`isi have said “the training is timely and is very significant for the medicinal plant project that we’re currently working on at the moment.” Fo`oori another member from Kwainaa`isi group also stated that “this training has changed the way I see and frame things. Now I know the different techniques I can use when I get footage next time. I am so happy that this training will be beneficial for our work at Kwainaa`isi.”

Chief Esau Kekeubata from Kwainaa`isi also commented, “this is good to see our group has gained this knowledge and skills; that means that we can now take the greater role in the production of the filming and editing for different works that we will be doing at the cultural Centre, instead of relying much on outsider and this is our aim.”

Gaining this knowledge and skills will be valuable for much of our up-coming work at the Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre into the future. The work of documenting traditional knowledge about culture and medicine is one of the priority areas for Kwainaa`isi, and that young people are the drivers of this work is very promising. It is important to document these unique traditional knowledge as they are disappearing today. All participants are super excited to be involved and about the prospect of the project thus far. We look forward for this similar kind of training in the future.

For more information: Tommy Esau or David MacLaren

Atoifi researchers to facilitate research workshop in Fiji

Mr Humpress Harrington, Head of Atoifi Campus of Pacific Adventist University (PAU) and Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) researcher, will co-facilitate a community-based research workshop at the Creating Futures Conference in Suva, Fiji. Humpress is currently undertaking his PhD at James Cook University (JCU) where he is investigating relevant research capacity strengthening models for health research in the Pacific.

Humpress will join Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren (CQUniversity Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research and AHRG), Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan (JCU) and Dr Anaseini Silatolu (Ministry of Health, Fiji) to facilitate an interactive research Workshop. The team will draw on the 'learn-by-doing' model of community-based research used in Solomon Islands.

Participants in the Workshop will explore how research can be mutually beneficial, as outlined in the paper published by AHRG members, "Mutual research capacity strengthening: a qualitative study of two-way partnerships in public health research". You can read this article for free here:

In addition to Humpress and Michelle's contribution, James Asugeni, Mental Health Nurse, AHRG member and Lecturer, PAU-Atoifi campus, has been invited to be a cultural adviser during the Creating Futures Conference.

For more information about Creating Futures 2017 to be held in September, please visit: