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

Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre features in Inaugural Resource Management Report

By Tommy Esau, Research Worker

Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre features on the front cover of the recently released Report of the 1st Solomon Islands Resources Management Symposium. Kwainaa`isi works to retain traditional knowledge and promote Kwaio culture and conservation in Kwaio, Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Kwainaa`isi was represented at the 1st Solomon Islands Resource Management Symposium held in Honiara during October, 2017. The Symposium brought together more than 300 representatives from ministries, provincial governments, civil society organizations, women’s and youth groups, and communities from all over the country to share experiences on natural resource management. Over four days, more than 60 presentations were given.

Chief Esau Kekeubata, the Coordinator of Kwainaa`isi and Secretary, Mr Tommy Esau, presented during the Symposium about the amazing work they are doing on traditional knowledge preservation and conservation in the Kwaio mountains in Chief Kekeubata explained, “the aim of the Kwainaa’isi Cultural Centre project is to build research capacity among Kwaio people to document and preserve knowledge of local culture and history, and develop and strengthen approaches to conserving Malaita’s highland rainforests.”

Kwainaa`isi has demonstrated an impressive capacity among Kwaio people to document plants and animals on their tribal lands and strengthen conservation in their area, in partnership with leading scientists. Kwanaa`isi’s work was recognised when Chief Kekeubata and Mr Esau were presented with the “Conservation champions” Award, as documented in the Report.

The Symposium was organized by The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR)--in collaboration with Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands (ESSI), the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and WorldFish.

You can read the proceedings of the 1st Solomon Islands Resources Management Symposium for free here:

Kwainaa’isi Cultural Centre is a key member of the Atoifi Health Research Group. The Cultural Centre centralise traditional knowledge that informs cultural approaches to health care and community-based research.

For more information, please contact Mr Tommy Esau: