Yaws study underway on Malaita, Solomon Islands

A team of researchers is conducting a yaws intervention study in villages around Uru Harbour and in Kwaibaita Valley, Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Dr Michael Marks and Dr Christian Kostiz, from London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are working with the Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) to conduct the study. Members of the AHRG include researchers from Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Pacific Adventist University, James Cook University and CQUniversity.

The disease yaws is mostly a disease of children who live in poor, rural settings in the topics. With the highest rates of yaws per capita in the world, children (and adults) in Solomon Islands are greatly affected. Researchers from LSTHTM are working with the Atoifi research team to provide the best evidence to control, and ultimately eliminate, yaws at a community level.

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: Atoifi Research Nurse, Hillary Tolaka, demonstrates the use of a rapid testing kit for yaws and syphilis with volunteer, Chief Esau Kekeubata (photo credit: Tommy Esau)

New Research partner to work at Atoifi this month

Dr Michael Marks, of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, joins the Atoifi Research team this month to launch health research projects to address yaws and scabies.

Due to arrive in East Kwaio this coming Monday, Dr Michael will assist in research training with partners from Atoifi Hospital, James Cook University and East Kwaio community leaders to undertake research projects about yaws and scabies.

If you would like to learn more about Dr Michael, including papers he has written, you can read his work profile here:

For more information about yaws, visit:

For more information about scabies, visit:

Dr Michael, we look forward to welcoming you to Atoifi very soon!

Photo credit: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Greg Urwin Recipient Reports on Week One at JCU

By Hillary Toloka, 10 June 2016

The opportunity to do my attachment with WHOCC Nursing & Midwifery Education & Research Capacity Building, at James Cook University (JCU) came directly from the assistance from the Pacific Leadership Program, Greg Urwin Award.

Atoifi Adventist Hospital has identified a need to help develop my capacity as a newly appointed Research Nurse, to help inform hospital administrators and community leaders with evidence-based information in order for sound decisions to be made.

As a nurse I have gained experience over the years in both in clinical and community settings and I feel increasing my capacity and skills in research is an important step forward.

Undertaking my placement at JCU provides me with the opportunity to see a bigger picture and how research is a part of daily operations and decision making. Importantly I can learn from this experience and take those learnings home to and share with colleagues and clinic nurses in the Eastern Region and the surrounding communities.

My placement began on the 30th May 2016 under the Leadership of Associate Professor Caryn West, Ms. Andrea Grimes and Dr David MacLaren, who supervise and coordinate my daily work activities.

My placement will be in two parts, with the first part from 30th May 2016 to June 24th 2016. I will work at JCU and then return to Atoifi Hospital to work on an integrated project with the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine for a month. I will then return to JCU to complete the last part of my three month placement.

During this first week I have had a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Vanessa Sparke, who is a nursing academic, infection control specialist and subject coordinator. Vanessa is undertaking her PhD based at Atoifi and has worked with us there. Useful information were shared and stronger academic ties built. We look forward to welcoming Vanessa back to help support the Atoifi Infection Control Department.

Another opportunity not to be missed was with Sally White. Sally is an academic in nursing & midwifery and teaches Leadership. We had a wonderful opportunity to share and discuss different leadership styles which would be very applicable to Atoifi Hospital Nursing Leaders. For me this was a great opportunity to learn.

I also had wonderful first time opportunity to join the JCU Nursing Curriculum teleconferencing meeting. At present a new nursing curriculum is being designed that will include overseas clinical placement. It has been wonderful taking part in these activities and to have this opportunity to learn.

I also joined a CQUniversity team for two day-long meetings about a participatory research project to enhance resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students.

I would like to thank Associate Professor Caryn West and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren for making these opportunities possible.

Photo (L-R): Vanessa Sparke, Sally White, Karen Yates, Hillary Toloka, Susanne Brookes and Scott Trueman, JCU Nursing

Rick Speare Memorial Fund to assist health research in Solomon Islands

The Rick Speare Memorial Fund has been established following the tragic death of Emeritus Professor Richard (Rick) Speare AM, Founder and Leader of the Atoifi Health Research Group.

Professor Speare's family requests that, instead of purchasing flowers, people make a donation to a special fund to ensure Rick’s work with the Atoifi Health Research Group in Solomon Islands is continued.

The Memorial Fund will continue to receive donations on an ongoing basis, with all donations over $2 fully tax-deductible.

If you wish to donate, please visit the James Cook University website:

For more information, please email Dr David MacLaren: