Using Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Yaws and Syphilis in remote clinics in East Malaita – what do health workers think?

Story by Tommy Esau, Research Worker

Last week the Atoifi Health Research Team visited four clinics in East Malaita to collect the data from Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for Syphilis and Yaws and to interview people about their experience in using RDTs in four clinics – Gounabusu, A`arei, Nafinua and Atoifi hospital in East Kwaio. The research team was led by James Asugeni, and included Hillary Toloka and Tommy Esau.

The purpose of the study was to access the acceptability, feasibility and cost effectiveness of using this test kit in the Solomon Islands. For two days the team visited the clinics to collect data and talk with the health workers and patients about the RDT test that has been trial during 2016 and 2017.

Most clinics visited described the RDTs for Yaws and Syphilis as being a very useful test for remote clinics where health facilities are limited. A health worker from Nafinua stated that “the test is cost- effective compared to what we have experienced before; where you have to wait for a long time, and usually takes a long process before result can be available. But this one as soon as you do the test result is available.” Another health worker from Namola`ela`e clinic also stated that the new test was good for patients and clinics and should be rolled out in other remote clinics in Solomon Islands.

For more information about this study, please contact Rowena Asugeni, Director of Research, Atoifi Adventist Hospital rowenaasugeni[at] or Dr Jason Diau, Chief Medical Officer at Atoifi Adventist Hospital jaseydiau[at]

Photo: Hillary Toloka (L) and James Asugeni (R) meet with Susan, Nurse, Gounabusu clinic

Starting them young! Enthusiastic kids help with mosquito survey at Atoifi

Enthusiastic children of Atoifi hospital staff have helped members of the Atoifi Health Research Group to conduct a simple mosquito larva survey around the Atoifi hospital campus. Last week, these young ‘researchers’ ran all over the Atoifi campus to find mosquito larvae in old containers, pot plants, coconut shells, and tanks. The mosquito larva were then collected by research team members into a secure bottle.

Why collect mosquito larvae? Over the past few months several thousand people across Solomon Islands have become sick with dengue fever. Mosquitoes pass the dengue virus from one person to another, but it is only a few types of mosquitoes that can pass the dengue virus between people. Because of this, it is important to know what types of mosquitoes live in different places to help know who might be at risk of dengue.

The mosquito larvae have been sent to the Vector Born Disease laboratory in the Ministry of Health and Medical Service in Honiara for further examination. We are looking forward to the results to find out if the special mosquito that can pass dengue is present on the Atoifi hospital campus. Stay tuned!

For more information about the dengue work at Atoifi Hospital, please email: humpress.harrington[at]

Hookworm research findings from Malaita now published

Although hookworm is highly prevalent in the Solomon Islands, the species of hookworm is not always known. Hookworm disease disease causes iron deficiency anemia and malnutrition, leading to illness in pregnant women and children.

A group of researchers, including Atoifi Health Research Group researchers Dr Richard Bradbury, CQUniversity, Mr Humpress Harrington, Pacific Adventist University, and Late Professor Rick Speare, conducted a community-based hookworm study in response to community requests. In an article published in the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers report a high prevalence of hookworm in some areas, the type of hookworms people have and that that hookworm control programs in Solomon Islands would benefit from considering a One Health approach, because, to be successful, these programs may have to control hookworms in humans, dogs, and cats simultaneously.

To read the article in full, please visit:

For more information about the STH work, or the Atoifi Health Research Group, please email: Mr Humpress Harrington

Photo: Ancylostoma ceylanicum hookworm. Photo sourced from:

Staff and students from JCU’s Sport and Exercise Science visit Malaita

Members of the Atoifi Health Research Group, including Mr Tommy Esau, Mr Esau Kekeubata and Dr David MacLaren have been pivotal in the establishment of a James Cook Univerisy (JCU)-East Kwaio Sport and Exercise Science partnership. Below is a story published by JCU about the latest initiatives.

Reposted from

In early December 2016, staff and students from JCU’s Sport and Exercise Science discipline visited the remote island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands.

As a key initiative to enhance practicum opportunities of future graduates, 11 students (2nd to 4th years from Townsville and Cairns campuses) and three staff undertook a two-week visit to the remote villages of Canaan and Ambitona.

Students conducted physical, exercise and sporting activities and engaged in language lessons with the local people.

Through day-to-day engagement, students were able to develop further their sport and exercise science knowledge and skills.

The trip was funded by the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan, who have pledged to continue to support this initiative in 2017 and 2018.

Greater numbers of students will be able to undertake the unique experience and contribute to their professional and cultural development at JCU.

Associate Professor Leicht said that “this opportunity has and will continue to provide JCU students with a novel learning opportunity that is rare amongst sport and exercise science professionals in Australia".

Photo: Young men training with Sports and Exercise Science student