Who is getting malaria, where and when? A new study underway

By Stephanie Wheeler*

The Atoifi Adventist Hospital staff knew that it had been a big year for malaria (so many patients presenting and so many slides to examine!), and communities had noticed more people becoming unwell in their villages too. Since the last malaria study at Atoifi in 2014, malaria data has been carefully collected, but not yet analysed.

With a sense of changing malaria epidemiology in recent years, a new study commenced in September to understand the current situation of malaria in East Kwaio. Data were entered electronically and analysed to describe who is getting malaria, where and when. Cases were also analysed by malaria species, and by number of hospital presentations for malaria.

As data only ever show a small part of the story, initial results were presented to key hospital staff and community leaders for input on the context of the findings. The group brainstormed many solutions and recommendations for next steps both within the hospital, and community-led initiatives.

We look forward to sharing the results soon!

*Stephanie Wheeler (RN, MIPH) is a Field Epidemiology trainee with the Australian National University and Hunter New England Health Protection in Australia.

To read the previous AHRG Malaria paper, please visit:

Photo: Stephanie and Dorothy Esau enter malaria data for analysis (photo credit Peter Massey)

Analysing data can be fun!

Learning quantitative analytical skills can be challenging.This can involve extensive time slaving over textbooks and worksheets. However there are fun and practical ways to gain the same skills using a ‘learn-by-doing’ approach.

In September 2019 Associate Professor Peter Massey delivered a series of ‘learn-by-doing’ workshops with final year students at Atoifi College of Nursing. Students worked together with coloured jelly beans to learn how to calculate disease rates, and investigate the prevalence of disease and disease outbreaks in different populations and sub-populations. Coloured jelly beans were used to represent different populations and sub-populations.

Students reported that they had increased their problem solving and analytical skills – and had lots of fun during the activities. Analysing data can be fun!

Sharing results for action: A Zika Survey on Malaita

By Mr Humpress Harrington

In May 2019 PhD candidate Mr Humpress Harrington and Associate Professor David MacLaren worked together with Atoifi Hospital Primary Health Care Department and community leaders to feedback results from the recent study to investigate the transmission malaria and aroboviruses in villages in East Kwaio.

The study, conducted in 4 villages, found 2 - 13% of people tested positive for malaria but did not have any signs or symptoms. Overall 45% of people tested positive for flavivirus (Dengue or Zika) and 46% tested positive for Alphavirus (Ross River or Chikungunya). The team also found that Aedes Albopictus, a mosquito responsible for arbovirus transmission was also found present in all 4 villages.

The result was firstly presented to the Atoifi Hospital and School of Nursing leaders. The results were then presented in open community meetings to the four communities in collaboration with the hospital Primary Health Care director Mr Chillion Fanuabae. Four nights were set aside in consultation with the communities to do the presentations.

Each night, presentation was given with Primary Health Care team followed by questions and answer session and a detailed discussion on what can be done by the communities and the hospital to control the spread of malaria and the arboviruses in the villages.

This is the first time that a community-level study has been conducted in East Kwaio to investigate arbovirus transmission. Therefore the results are very important for Atoifi Hospital, the Primary Health Care Department and the surrounding communities in planning to control vector bone diseases within the East Kwaio region.

The Atoifi Health Research Group wished to thank the James Cook University-led ‘Tropical Partners’ project and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for making this survey possible.

For further information please contact Mr Humpress Harrington:
Photo: Mr Humpress Harrington sharing study results with villagers in East Kwaio

Chief Esau inspires theme of World Conference on Planetary Health

‘The health of people relies on the health of the planet’ was the key message at the 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2019.

Atoifi Health Research Group members Chief Esau Fo`ofafimae Kekuabata, Associate Professor David MacLaren and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren attended the four day event and were a part of the 1600 people who endorsed the commitment to the waiuro: healthy land healthy people Statement.

The theme of this 2019 World Conference was influenced by Chief Kekeubata. Chief Kekeubata gave a keynote address at the 2007 World Health Promotion Conference in Canada, where he described how land (wado) is fundamental to physical, social and spiritual health. Mr Sione Tu'itahi, Co-Chair of the 2019 Organising Committee of the IUHPE conference was present at this 2007 presentation, and was impressed. Mr Tu'itahi and colleagues then took this as their theme and emphasised the importance of land, social connectedness and traditional knowledge for health of people and the planet in the Aotearoa New Zealand Conference. Known as planetary health, this approach reflects traditional Pacific understandings of holistic health and well-being.

Maori leaders from Aotearoa New Zealand, along with Pacific leaders and indigenous delegates from across the globe shared how land, social connectedness and traditional knowledge is fundamental to human health in the context of their natural environments.

Members of the Atoifi Health Research Group are involved in a range of community, conservation and human health projects in East Malaita. Research Reports, articles, videos and booklets can be found at:

For more information, please contact:

Photo (courtesy Michelle Redman-MacLaren): Chief Esau Fo`ofafimae Kekuabata and Associate Professor David MacLaren in Rotorua