Atoifi Health Research Symposium, 12 March 2015

Planning Symposium

Reporting health research findings is an important element of successful health research. Findings from research projects conducted by the Atoifi Health Research Group will be reported during a one-day Health Research Symposium to be held 12 March, 2015. This Symposium will meet one of the goals of a WHO-TDR funded health research capacity building grant being administered by Atoifi Hospital, Solomon Islands.

Chiefs and community leaders, along with national and provincial health officials, donors and collaborators will be invited to attend. The aims of the Symposium are to: (i) report research conducted by the Atoifi team; ii) increase skills and experience in formally presenting research findings; and (iii) partner with potential collaborators.

The Symposium will report on an extensive range of operational health research, including hospital and community-based research and cover topics from TB and intestinal parasites to mental health and climate change. Mr Humpress Harrington from Atoifi explains, “Researchers from Solomon Islands will lead all presentations, supported by colleagues from James Cook University, Tropical Health Solutions and Hunter New England Health.”

The Symposium will commence with an overview of the WHO-TDR Research Capacity Building program run at Atoifi for the past 12 months, followed by a wide-range of relevant topics. The conclusion will be an interactive session to discuss the next steps for enhancing research capacity of health researchers in Solomon Islands.

For more information about this Symposium, please email Mr Humpress Harrington:

Photo: A planning meeting for the Symposium was held at Atoifi Hospital on Thursday 22.1.15 with East Kwaio chiefs along with Atoifi, JCU and THS researchers (photo: Michelle Redman-MacLaren)

East Kwaio Chiefs meet Partners in Port Moresby

Partners with Melanesia, POM

Jackson Waneagea and Esau Kekeubata are chiefs of East Kwaio and leaders of an International Union for the Conservation of Nature-funded Biodiversity Project. They are currently en rote to an international conference in the USA on Archiving where they will be hosted by Dr David Akin from the University of Michigan.

While in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the chiefs took the opportunity to meet with Partners with Melanesians (PWM), a national environment and community development non-government organisation promoting environmental awareness to rural communities where they discussed possible partnerships and future projects.

A short post about their visit can be viewed at the PWM Facebook page:

Atoifi research team prepare for gutworm surveys in Marovo

Gutworm infestation appears to be a common health problem in Solomon Islands as more evidence is collected. Infestation of soil-transmitted helminths (gutworms) such as hookworm, whipworm and roundworm can result in anaemia and a failure to thrive, especially for women and children. These parasitic worms spread in villages when people defecate on the ground rather than in formal toilets. Gutworm surveys in villages in East Malaita have shown that hookworms and roundworm are common, with up to 70% of residents affected in some villages. The major type of gutworm can vary between villages: some have hookworms as the major worm; others have roundworm. However, for many regions in the Solomon Islands there is no knowledge whether these worms are a problem or not. This is the case with Western Province.

This week a team of researchers from the Atoifi Health Research Group, led by Mr Humpress Harrington, met with village leaders in Marovo Lagoon to plan gutworm surveys. Surveys are planned for three large villages, a group of small hamlets and a school on Marovo Island in Western Province, Solomon Islands. The surveys will be conducted by the Atoifi Research Group and will also include local researchers from Marovo Lagoon.

Two public presentations about gutworms were given by Professor Rick Speare, Mr Humpress Harrington and Dr David MacLaren in the villages of Chea and Sasaghana to over 150 villagers. Questions and answer time extended for more than one hour at both villages– it is clear infestation of gutworms is a health concern for the people who live in this rural area of Solomon Islands. Results from the surveys will inform public health responses such as mass drug administration and water and sanitation (WASH) projects.

While in Marovo Lagoon the team also met with representatives of Marovo Medical Foundation, Grant and Jill Kelly. It is hoped the new relationship developing between Marovo Medical Foundation and the Atoifi Health Research Group will result in collective action to improve the health of people in Marovo. For more information about the work of Marovo Medical, see:

The team also visited health centres of Seghe and Batuna, where discussions about facilities and common health concerns were held with local health centre staff. Discussions included how these centres might partner in the future gutworm surveys and the associated public health response.

For more information about Atoifi Health research group’s STH work please email

To watch as recent TEDx talk by Dr MacLaren about STH in Solomon Islands, please visit:

PHOTO (L-R): Humpress Harrington, Fordy Simi, Rick Speare and Michelle Redman-MacLaren in Marovo Lagoon (Photo: David MacLaren)

Atoifi researcher graduates with Masters

Rowena Asugeni graduation

Formal recognition of research capacity has been the goal of a number Atoifi researchers since 2008. Previously researchers have said, “We need to do more research ourselves...not outside people doing research"*. Now one of those research leaders, Mrs Rowena Asugeni, has attained this goal by earning a Master of Leadership and Development from Pacific Adventist University (PAU), Papua New Guinea.

At the Graduation ceremony on Sunday 7 December 2014, Rowena received her Higher degree, supported by family, friends and one of her Masters supervisors Dr David MacLaren (Senior Research Fellow at James Cook University (JCU) and Adjunct Associate Professor at PAU). Rowena was also supervised by Em. Professor Rick Speare (Tropical Health Solutions & JCU).

Rowena explained her research saying, " My thesis focused on community and health service responses to the new, culturally-safe tuberculosis ward at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands. Providing health services that meet the needs of local communities is essential to reducing disease and improving health - and I found the new TB Ward is an important part of this response".

Rowena's research has resulted in a newly defined leadership development framework for Atoifi that involves three components: health, religion and culture.

Rowena now returns to Atoifi Adventist Hospital in her role as the Director of Nursing and as a research leader in the Atoifi Health Research Group. Congratulations Rowena!

Rowena's thesis is available here:

*These quotes were first reported in an article published by Atoifi and JCU researchers in 2010: