New article: Measles outbreak and lessons learnt

A new article led by Atoifi researcher Dr Jason Daiu,was published this week in the Western Pacific Surveillance and Response journal. The article is an epidemiological review of measles cases presenting to Atoifi Adventist Hospital (AAH) during the outbreak period from July to December 2014. A total of 117 cases presented at AAH over 19 weeks with 82% of these being 18 years or younger. Rumour surveillance revealed about three quarters of children in one area of the East Kwaio Mountains had suspected measles but did not present at AAH. There were three deaths from this area.

Improvement of registration methods and follow-up systems and setting up satellite clinics are planned to improve measles surveillance and vaccination coverage.

To read this article for free, please visit:

Photo (L-R): Ronald Oleka and Mike Puia provided vaccinations in villages surrounding Atoifi Hospital during the outbreak in 2014.
Photo Credit: Alwin Muse, Lecturer and researcher, PAU (Atoifi campus)

Good research is important for policy makers: Solomon Islands Health Research Symposium

By Tommy Esau, Research Worker

Researchers from Atoifi Health Research Group made four presentations at the Solomon Islands Health Research Symposium, held in Honiara on 27 -28, August 2015. Researchers who attended included Humpress Harrington, Principal of Pacific Adventist University (Atoifi campus), Rowena Asugeni, Director of Nursing, Hillary Toloka, Research Nurse, and Helen Oloifana-Polosovai, Medical Laboratory Scientist, all of Atoifi Adventist Hospital. Also part of the group was Chief Esau Kekeubata, Dr David MacLaren, Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University, Australia and me (Tommy Esau, Research Worker).

The two-day program was organised by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Solomon Islands. The symposium aimed to help bridge the operational research – policy gap, to create public health policy informed by relevant health research. The Symposium was held to identify research needs, introduce new research and researchers from within Solomon Islands and strengthen the dialogue between health researchers and health policy makers.

The Atoifi Health research team were among the 74 participants from various organizations who have attended the program. Others were Dr Chris Becha Undersecretary Health , Ministry of Health and Medical services (MHMS) , National Referral hospital, WHO, SINU, Water and Sanitation (WASH), and other health professionals from other Non-Government Organizations.

About 25 presentations were made on Day One of the Symposium, including sessions about determinants of health; Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases; HIV and Tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases and strengthening health systems. Atoifi researchers presented three presentations on the first day, with Hillary presenting about the 2014 Measles outbreak investigation in East Kwaio, Humpress about the Elimination of Soil Transmitted Helminths in East Malaita: One village at a Time and Rowena about Tuberculosis. Rowena’s presentation was entitled, “Community and health service response to culturally safe tuberculosis at Atoifi.

On the day two of the program, the Atoifi Health research team talked about how they established a research programme and identify research questions. The team talked about the establishment of the Atoifi Health Research Group, its significance and outputs, and different methods used to identify research questions arising from the community and health service professionals.
Dr Mark Jacobs (Director of Division of Communicable Diseases -WHO Wester Pacific Region) commented during closing remarks, that “a lot of these presentations are examples of practical research which can be useful for Solomon Islands and other countries. A relationship between research and policy makers is important, to provide evidence based information. It requires right time and regular conversation.”

Dr Audrey Aumua (Country Director WHO Solomon Islands) also added “having national conversation like this creates an avenue to distribute useful information.” Dr Aumua went on to commend the presenters and participants who had demonstrated a high standard of presentations and contributed critical questions. “Good research which produces good evidence is important for health policy makers”, Dr Aumua said. Dr Audery also applauded the effort of Atoifi research team for the high level of presentations and for the team’s enthusiasm, despite the geographical barriers encountered by working at a remote Provincial location.

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

Photo (L-R): Helen Oloifana-Polosovai, Rowena Asugeni, Humpress Harrington, Tommy Esau, David MacLaren, Esau Kekeubata, Hillary Toloka

Medicinal plants project celebrates success!

Story by Tommy Esau, Research worker

In July 2015 a group of researchers from Atoifi Hospital, Kwaio chiefs and community leaders and Dr David MacLaren from James Cook University spent a week at Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to write the final report for our Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) medicinal plants project. The time together was an excellent opportunity to share the group success of the medicinal plants project. Capacity has been built within the group to produce videos, booklets and collect botanical specimens in a way that respects Kwaio people and Kwaio culture.

The chiefs, women and youth who live in the mountains and follow a traditional customs were very pleased to see their work in videos and booklet. In the meeting, Dr David Maclaren highlighted the success of the project including how skills had been learned about financial and organisational management. Discussion then progressed with the group, with many ideas and suggestions for submitting a new application to CEPF for the next round of support. These strategic discussions also built more capacity about how to link with external organisations who are able to support such grass-roots projects. Among the group were women, children, youths and different tribes from the mountains suggesting strategic plans and understanding about the future directions were prioritised by many people.

To celebrate the success of the project and the Solomon Islands Independence Anniversary, the group organised a programme on Independence Day, with a parade, flag rising, speeches, cultural performance. The day ended with a traditional feast. It was indeed a breakthrough for the Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to organise such event and be part of the country’s independence celebration. An eye witness of the program said this is the first time since the country gained its independence that the people in the Kwaio mountains had officially commemorated the country’s Independence with such celebrations.

According to Chief Waneagea “this event was one of the highlights in our history in the mountains. This marks not only the independence celebration but also the success of our first medicinal plants project.” He said we look forward for more events like this in the future and anticipate working with the CEPF team well into the future.

For more information, please email Tommy Esau:

Photos: Chief Waneagea leading panpipers for a cultural performance

New article published by Atoifi Group about soil-transmitted helminths

The latest peer-reviewed article by members of the Atoifi Health Research Group reports prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) in remote villages in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

Humpress Harrington and colleagues report how hookworm was the predominant STH found across the four East Kwaio study sites. The total prevalence of hookworm in the study was 22.6% but there were differences across sites with Abitona, Na’au and Sifilo having 20.0%, 29.9% and 27.4%, respectively, whereas Atoifi had a prevalence of only 2.3%. Although health behaviours differed significantly between Atoifi and the other three villages, the type of toilet used was the only significant association with hookworm infestation.

Authors suggest that rather than a region-wide morbidity control approach, a “one village at a time” approach aiming to eliminate STH, in partnership with individual villages, may be a preferred option.

The details of the article are available from the

The article can be read for free at the WPSAR site here:

Photo: Jenter Riimana and John Gwaala screening specimens for STH eggs