Infection Control study at Atoifi Adventist Hospital gets underway

Data collection for the study “Improving infection control at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands: A participatory action research approach” commenced at Atoifi in October 2018. This study uses a technique called ‘Photovoice’. This technique involved health workers, cleaners, cooks and maintenance staff at the hospital taking photos in response to the statement; “From your perspective, how does sickness pass from one person to another at Atoifi Hospital?” All of the photos were downloaded onto a computer, printed and laminated.
People were then asked to select a few of the best photos that had the most meaning. They were asked to talk about their photos using the acronym PHOTO as a guide.
P = Describe your Picture
H = What is Happening in your picture?
O = Why did you take a picture of this?
T = What does your picture Tell us about your role in the hospital?
O = How can this picture provide Opportunities to improve infection control at Atoifi Adventist Hospital?
The stories behind each photo will be analyzed to help understanding issues around infection control at the hospital. When this is complete further workshops will discuss what can be done to improve infection control at the hospital.

Thank you to the staff that participated and also to the hospital administration for supporting this research.

Vanessa Sparke
Lecturer, Nursing and Midwifery
James Cook University, Cairns Campus
Queensland, Australia

Photo: Becky Ngatulu, Daisy Fatalaea and Hemaema Toloka looking at the photos and deciding on the ones they want to discuss in the interview.

Photo supplied by Vanessa Sparke.

Head Lice Survey at Atoifi Hospital

Story by Relmah Harrington

Researchers from the Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) have recently authored a study about how Ivermectin can reduce the prevalence of head lice. Ivermectin is a medication that is effective against many types of parasites. We already know from other studies that mass drug administration (MDA), with ivermectin, can reduce the number of people who have scabies and intestinal worms in Solomon Islands. However, there has never been a study to document how ivermectin MDA will reduce head lice in these villages.

With this as a background, the team screened 118 people and found that 30 people (25%) had active head lice. Everyone was treated with ivermectin. After two weeks only 3 people had active head lice (2.5%) and after three months only 8 people (8%) had active head lice.

The good news? This study found that ivermectin can dramatically reduce the burden of active head lice infestation. This is great because we now have proof that when a MDA with ivermectin is conducted in villages to reduce scabies or intestinal parasites, it will also reduce head lice. This will be an added health benefit to people in these villages.

The article can be found at:

For further information please contact: Dr Michael Marks ( or Rowena Asugeni (

Photo credit: sourced from

Local ownership of WASH responses are required in Pacific schools

To celebrate #WorldToiletDay2018, a blog has been published by the 'Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) Blog' at the University of Leeds.

The blog was written by Dr Dani Barrington, University of Leeds, and AHRG members Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren, James Cook University and Mr Humpress Harrington, PhD Candidate, James Cook University and past Head of Atoifi Campus, Pacific Adventist University.

Exploring the importance of ownership for successful WASH responses in Pacific schools, especially for girls and for students with a disability, the use of a tree metaphor was developed by Mr Harrington.

"The system components can be seen as the branches of a tree", says Mr Harrington, "while the roots of the tree are the socio-cultural contexts, ways of knowing and ways of learning".

To read the blog in full, visit: see:

To read the recently published scoping review of WASH in the Pacific (open access), visit:

For more information, please email:

For more information about the tree image, please read:

Atoifi Health Research Group assists with Scabies Survey in Choiseul Province

By Relmah Harrington, Midwife Researcher

Scabies is a common skin disease in Solomon Islands. Scabies is caused by a small mite that burrows into the skin which can lead to intense itching, which then can lead to skin sores and other infections. The good news is that scabies is easily treatable with a one off dose of a drug called ivermectin.

From 6th – 19th August 2018, a follow-up scabies survey was conducted in ten villages across Choiseul Province. Relmah Harrington from Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) and Tanya Leketo, a nurse-graduate from Pacific Adventist University Atoifi Campus joined Dr Michael Marks from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who led the survey.

The first scabies survey in Choiseul province was in 2015 and conducted by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Choiseul provincial health and LSHTM. After this first scabies survey, a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of Ivermectin was given to treat scabies in Choiseul Province.

The 2018 scabies survey was a 3-year follow up after the 2015 MDA of ivermectin to assess whether the rate of scabies has gone down and remained low after the MDA. When all of the results are compiled, they will assist the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services to assess the overall effectiveness of ivermectin in Choiseul province. This will inform future plans and drug procurements to manage scabies in Solomon Islands and in similar settings in other Pacific Island nations.

Feedback from the communities involved in the survey was very positive. Communities actively supported the survey because of their interest to strive for healthy communities. As researchers from AHRG, it was very impressive to see how communities organized themselves. Partnerships like this offer a potential pathway to provide results for successful health initiatives for not only scabies, but other diseases that affect our communities.

For more information please contact Dr Michael Marks or Ms Relmah Harrington

Photo: Relmah Harrington examines children for scabies