Medicinal plants project celebrates success!

Story by Tommy Esau, Research worker

In July 2015 a group of researchers from Atoifi Hospital, Kwaio chiefs and community leaders and Dr David MacLaren from James Cook University spent a week at Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to write the final report for our Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) medicinal plants project. The time together was an excellent opportunity to share the group success of the medicinal plants project. Capacity has been built within the group to produce videos, booklets and collect botanical specimens in a way that respects Kwaio people and Kwaio culture.

The chiefs, women and youth who live in the mountains and follow a traditional customs were very pleased to see their work in videos and booklet. In the meeting, Dr David Maclaren highlighted the success of the project including how skills had been learned about financial and organisational management. Discussion then progressed with the group, with many ideas and suggestions for submitting a new application to CEPF for the next round of support. These strategic discussions also built more capacity about how to link with external organisations who are able to support such grass-roots projects. Among the group were women, children, youths and different tribes from the mountains suggesting strategic plans and understanding about the future directions were prioritised by many people.

To celebrate the success of the project and the Solomon Islands Independence Anniversary, the group organised a programme on Independence Day, with a parade, flag rising, speeches, cultural performance. The day ended with a traditional feast. It was indeed a breakthrough for the Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to organise such event and be part of the country’s independence celebration. An eye witness of the program said this is the first time since the country gained its independence that the people in the Kwaio mountains had officially commemorated the country’s Independence with such celebrations.

According to Chief Waneagea “this event was one of the highlights in our history in the mountains. This marks not only the independence celebration but also the success of our first medicinal plants project.” He said we look forward for more events like this in the future and anticipate working with the CEPF team well into the future.

For more information, please email Tommy Esau:

Photos: Chief Waneagea leading panpipers for a cultural performance

New article published by Atoifi Group about soil-transmitted helminths

The latest peer-reviewed article by members of the Atoifi Health Research Group reports prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) in remote villages in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

Humpress Harrington and colleagues report how hookworm was the predominant STH found across the four East Kwaio study sites. The total prevalence of hookworm in the study was 22.6% but there were differences across sites with Abitona, Na’au and Sifilo having 20.0%, 29.9% and 27.4%, respectively, whereas Atoifi had a prevalence of only 2.3%. Although health behaviours differed significantly between Atoifi and the other three villages, the type of toilet used was the only significant association with hookworm infestation.

Authors suggest that rather than a region-wide morbidity control approach, a “one village at a time” approach aiming to eliminate STH, in partnership with individual villages, may be a preferred option.

The details of the article are available from the

The article can be read for free at the WPSAR site here:

Photo: Jenter Riimana and John Gwaala screening specimens for STH eggs

Women’s experience of TB in Solomon Islands

This week a team from the Atoifi Health Research Group were privileged to visit Namolaelae village in Kwaibaita valley, Kwara'ae, Malaita, Solomon Islands. The focus of the visit was to start talking with women and men about tuberculosis (TB).

A new project, funded by the Australian Respiratory Council, has been launched this month to support women who have TB and/or who care for family members with TB. Women are diagnosed with TB less often than men in Solomon Islands. This project will explore new ways of supporting women with TB and women as carers. Using this information, communities and health workers will develop practical ways to support family members on TB treatment.

A small series of DVDs will be produced to help increase awareness and support for women who are dealing with TB in Solomon Islands.

For more information about TB in Solomon Islands, read Massey et al (2015):

For more information about this project, please email Rowena Asugeni or Peter Massey

Research training for Solomon Islands by Atoifi researchers

By Tommy Esau, Research Worker

A four-day research workshop, ‘Getting Started in Research’ was held last week (3-6 August) at Atoifi Adventist Hospital. It was facilitated by Mr Humpress Harrington, Mrs Rowena Asugeni and Mr Alwin Muse, health research group leaders from Solomon Islands. In addition, Mr Lester Asugeni, Senior Lecturer from Pacific Adventist University in PNG also helped facilitate the workshop. Senior public health researchers from Australia, Professor Rick Speare and Associate Professor Peter Massey travelled to Atoifi to support the workshop. The research workshop was described by Professor Speare as a ‘significant direction’ because this was the first research workshop wholly run by Atoifi based researchers. The workshop was a demonstration of the successful research capacity strengthening that has been ongoing since the first research workshop in 2009.

Ninety participants including health professionals, teachers, community leaders and chiefs attended the ‘Getting Started in Research’ workshop. The workshop sessions were presented twice each day: once in the morning (mostly in Pijin) and once at night (both Pijin and English). Practical sessions were held in the afternoons where research leaders shared their experiences in research, as well as leading out in group discussions. Practical sessions were helpful as participants utilised the knowledge they had gained about identifying research topics, writing aims and smart objectives, reviewing literature and writing a research proposal.

The research projects planned in the afternoon sessions included nine proposals from the 3rd year Nursing students of Pacific Adventist University (Atoifi Campus) and five proposals from Probationer nurses. The research topics related to health issues that are directly relevant to Atoifi Adventist Hospital and surrounding communities.

Health research was first introduced by James Cook University (JCU) researchers at Atoifi in 2009. One of the aims was to strengthen research capacity by conducting health research in Solomon Islands to enable a Pacific Islands approach to understanding health issues affecting Pacific Islands communities. “The research work in Atoifi hospital has been developing significantly,” stated Professor Rick Speare in his speech during the presentation evening. “The increasing numbers of participants interested in doing research, the involvement of Pacific Adventist University, and local researchers from the Solomons taking the lead in delivering presentations all indicate a positive direction.”

Mr Leon Manehoua, Tuberculosis nurse from Kilufi Hospital, also attended the workshop. Mr Manehoua said,”It was a blessing for me attending this research workshop”. Many participants who attended the research workshops revealed that they learned a lot and have been actively involved. This interest has built upon the previous research workshops. There is a lot of positive feedback, from the participants and, as demonstrated in the evaluations, participants are looking forward for another research workshop in the near future. For now there are at least 14 new research projects to get started!

For more information about the Atoifi Research Group, please visit: or email