Planning for next Medicinal Plants project

Twenty-eight people from the East Kwaio mountains come down to Atoifi Hospital on Sunday 7 August to participate in a plant documentation workshop. This workshop was run in anticipation of the next phase of Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) funding. The first phase of CEPF funding resulted in the production of the first ever bilingual book (English/Kwaio), concerning the medicinal and cultural uses of 15 plants from the East Kwaio region. Small video clips were also made about the uses of these plants. The second phase will see the book and videos expanded in content, with the East Kwaio participants taking on a greater role in the production of content.

Dr David MacLaren of James Cook University ran the workshop where the group learnt about the next phase of the project; it was explained to the group what the outcomes of the next phase of the project were. Due to the unique system of governance up in the mountains, the group were heavily involved in helping establish best practice methods of how the project will function. Hands-on training with the photography and video equipment was an aspect of the workshop, with the group practicing filming and photography techniques instructed by Ben Speare, of Speare Shot Media.

The two instructors were amazed at the perseverance and resilience of the East Kwaio group; the workshop started at 9:30am and finished after 7pm, at the behest of the participants! Everyone was very happy to be involved, and excited by the prospect of the next phase of the project.

To read the first Medicinal Pant book, visit:

For more information about the project, email Tommy Esau: or David MacLaren:

Story by: Ben Speare, Speare Shot Media

Australian Museum partnership with East Kwaio a success

Congratulations to members of the East Kwaio community, including members of the Atoifi Health Research group, who have been central to the success of the recent Expedition. An Australian Museum-Kwainaa'isi Cultural Centre partnership has contributed to a greater understanding of the rats and bats in Kwaio, and the Pacific more broadly.

Today the Expedition was featured in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio story. Opinions from Expedition leaders, Dr Tyrone Lavery, Chief Esau Kekeubata and Mr Tommy Esau were reported, and photos published. Many of the photos in the story were taken by the Expedition's photographer, Mr Benjamin Speare.

Bo'a le'a ba'ita to everyone who has contributed so far in an effort to maintain the health of well-being of people and the environment in Kwaio. More to come!

To read the ABC web story, listen to the radio story and/or watch footage, please visit:

Photo: Chiefs, researchers and community members dicuss Expedition plans in the mountains of East Kawio. Photo credit: Benjamin Speare, Speare Shot Media

Qualitative Research Workshops bring unexpected outcomes

By Miriam Redley, Probationer Nurse, Atoifi Adventist Hospital

Until recently, research meant nothing more to me than a study based on the interests of an individual in certain things like plants, animals and so on. However, when participating in the Qualitative Research Workshops held in June at Atoifi Hospital, I realised that there is more to research than what I thought. Therefore, I am going to briefly share my experience on qualitative research, and its positive impact on me.

As part of the nursing curriculum I studied the basics of research. Because of that experience, I know that there are two basic approaches to research. These are “Qualitative” and “Quantitative”. Thus, with this basic knowledge, I also learnt that quantitative method is based on counting numbers, whereas qualitative research relates to exploring people’s experiences and their views on a particular topic. Thus, in my experience, I have is no criticism with either approach. However, qualitative methods have made many positive impacts on me.

When participating in the recent Qualitative Research Workshops, I learnt that this type of research has guidelines that must be followed in order to achieve a successful outcome. For instance, the guidelines include “Open mindedness, non-judgmental, observant, sensitive, adaptable, and clear in speech”. These guidelines taught me to be neutral, however be knowledgeable, when seeking other people’s opinions.
I learnt to be ‘naïve’ and learnt to listen, even if it already known to me. I need to listen in a genuine manner of showing interest, I must not be judgmental in every conversation. Qualitative research has taught me not to make criticisms or make decisions according to my opinion - I must be observant, sensitive and be adaptable to whatever environment.

With this understanding, my participation in the Qualitative Research Workshops has impacted me, not only when doing research, but also at work. For instance, as a nurse, sometimes we are not ‘naïve’ enough when we ask questions of the patient. Sometimes the patient don’t have the chance to say something. Therefore with this, I believe that learning about qualitative methods is good and influential - I recommend it.

Photo: Miriam Redley, author, is second from the back on the left-hand side.

Miriam, along with researchers and fellow probationer nurses. work together during the recent Qualitative Research Workshop. The team met in a Pacific Adventist University (PAU) classroom. PAU delivers a Bachelor of Nursing from the campus at Atoifi Hospital, Solomon Islands. Photo credit: David MacLaren

Census lays platform for scabies and yaws intervention study in Kwaibaita Valley

By Tommy Esau, Research Assistant

Last week three members of the Scabies and Yaws Study team went to Kwaibaita Valley, East Kwaio, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands, to conduct a census. Census data collected included number of people living in each residence, gender of residents and ages of residents. This census is a critical part of preparing for study to be undertaken this week in Kwaibaita.

The census team included community members and researchers: Max Firiabae from Abitona community; Joyce from Namfe’akwa community in Kwaibaita; Mary Laetem RN nurse from Namolaelae clinic and Tommy Esau, Research Assistant with the Atoifi Health Research Group.

The team conducted censuses in three main villages in Kwaibaita valley: Gwaari (n=180); Fataolo (n=183); and Namolae'lae and surrounds (n=289). This population data represents the actual people residing in the village during the year.

The team also talked with community members about the causes and effects of scabies and yaws, and the how the communities can help protect themselves and their families from getting those diseases. These diseases are mostly diseases of children who live in poor, rural settings in the topics. According to a report published by Dr Michael Marks from London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and his colleagues, Solomon Islands are one of the counties in the world who are highly affected.

Yesterday, Dr Michael Marks and Dr Christian Kostiz, LSHTM, along with members of the Atoifi Health Research Group left for Kwaibaita to begin the scabies and yaws intervention study in villages in the Kwaibaita Valley.

For more information about the prevalence of yaws in Solomon Islands, read for free this recent article by Dr Marks and colleagues:

For more information about this research, please contact Dr Jason Diau, jaseydiau[at]

Photo: (i) (LR) Namolae'lae clinic nurse, Mary Laetem, Max Timothy and Joyce; (ii) Mary Laetem explaining some pictures about scabies and yaws to family at Fataolo in Kwaibaita. (Photo credit: Tommy Esau).