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.

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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

A Journey Back to the Museum

For the last two weeks, colleagues from the Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre have been in Australia working with the Australian Museum in Sydney, and with James Cook University and Australian Herbarium research partners in Cairns. Below is a story published by Alexandra Nuttall from the Australian Museum, found here:

"This past week we were lucky enough to welcome back our friends from the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. The last six months since our April workshop has been filled to the brim with scientific research and capacity building with the local people in the region.

Tales of elusive creatures and brushes with neighbouring tribes made for interesting discussion around the table at our workshop this week. Tyrone Lavery, our Australian Museum Expedition Fellow described some fantastic results from his research on Malaita in the Solomon Islands and in Bougainville. Although his search for the Monkey-Faced Bat proved unsuccessful this time around, he is confident that it exists somewhere in the region based on historical and observational evidence from the local people.

The search for the giant rat proved to be more successful from a results perspective. Observations made historically by the locals gave Tyrone confidence in his research. A break through was made with the discovery of ngali nuts (a local Canarium tree nut) which had distinctive chew marks on them – marks that differed to the ones left by the introduced common black rat (Rattus rattus). Could this be the evidence needed to prove that the giant rat still exists?
One conclusion drawn from the workshop is that more research is required, something the team from the region are keen to continue, pending funding opportunities. Further community engagement, trust building and cohesion of western scientific and indigenous ideas about biodiversity conservation was also identified as an immediate need moving forward.

We are very positive about the progress of the Solomon Islands Expedition and look forward to continuing to be a collaborator in the innovative projects that stem from it. Our friends from the region are highly optimistic about the impacts they plan to have in their communities and spreading the word about the importance of biodiversity conservation to their livelihoods and their culture.

Alexandra Nuttall, AMRI and External Partnerships Coordinator"

For more information about this work, email Tommy Esau, Secretary, Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre:

Atoifi researcher visits Australia

The last two weeks has been an exciting time for Mrs Rowena Asugeni, Director of Nursing at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, and Foundation Member of the Atoifi Health Research Group.

Rowena spent time with Dr David MacLaren, James Cook University, Cairns where she worked on manuscripts to report her Masters project about health services for people who have tuberculosis in Solomon Islands.

Rowena also worked with Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren, CQUniversity, where they jointly worked on a manuscript to report adaptation to sea-level rise instigated and enacted by local villagers in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

Mrs Asugeni said, “There were so many wonderful opportunities during this visit, funded by a WHO Research Capacity Strengthening grant, held by the Atoifi Health Research Group.”

Mrs Asugeni continued, “meeting with so many academics, including Professor Sarah Larkins, Director of Research in the College of Medicine and Dentistry, Professors Ray Mueller and Petra Buettner, amongst others was inspiring and encouraging. There is a lot of support available for our work in remote Solomon Islands.”

Towards the end of the second week, Mrs Asugeni was joined by Dr Jason Diau, Chief Medical Officer, Atoifi Adventist Hospital, who travelled with herself and Dr MacLaren to the Townsville campus of James Cook University. There they reviewed the medical placement program for Medical and Physician Assistant students at Atoifi Hospital with Mr Ando Kerlen, Academic Coordinator, Physician Assistant Program, and made plans for more students to learn from, and contribute to, Atoifi Hospital in 2017.

An additional bonus was the time Mrs Asugeni spent with fellow public health researcher and PhD candidate, Mrs Rachel Tommbe. “Writing alongside Rachel, as a successful Melanesian researcher, has really encouraged me to continue to write up my research findings, so that we can make positive changes to the health of people in the Pacific.”

Mrs Asugeni returned to Solomon Islands last week, where she had planned meetings with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Honiara, including the Head of Research, Mrs Freda Pitakaka.

If you would like to know more about the research being conducted by the arts with the health research group, please email Mrs Rowena Asugeni:

Photo (L-R): Rowena Asugeni, Ando Kerlen, Dr Jason Diau at JCU in Townsville (phot credit: David MacLaren)