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News

TB Prevention story published

Viewing TB Video

Current delays in seeking treatment for tuberculosis (TB) may be more due to socio-cultural and health service factors than awareness of the disease. This is a key finding from an evaluation of a DVD resource developed by a TB team in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

In a new article published this week, Atoifi Health Research group members describe the development of a DVD resource for people in East and show the importance of culturally sensitive TB services, including TB education.

Dr Peter Massey, lead author of the new article said, “This evaluation has shown it may be cultural and health service factors that need addressing more than a need for further awareness about TB.”

The article, entitled, ‘Steps on a journey to TB control in Solomon Islands: a cross-sectional, mixed methods pre-post evaluation of a local language DVD’, can be read for free here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/s12914-015-0041-3.pdf

For more information about the TB work in East Kwaio, please email: Dr Peter Massey Peter.Massey@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or Mr Esau Kekeubata esaukekeubata@gmail.com

We thank the Australian Respiratory Council for their ongoing funding of this important work.

Photo: Children in Kwaio mountains view a TB prevention video

Investigating Lymphatic Filariasis in Shortland Islands

Shortlands team

As a nurse and emerging heath researcher with the Atoifi Health Research Group, Eileen Otuana learnt more about lymphatic filariasis (LF) during a 2013 survey for LF survey in East Kwaio (Harrington et al 2013). LF is caused by a parasitic worm that is transmitted between people by mosquitoes. Solomon Islands was declared free from LF in 2011 but with such scattered and remote villages there is concern there may still be parasites present in some isolated villages. Eileen thought of family and friends in her homeland of Shortland Islands in Western Province, adjacent to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) boarder. When Eileen was growing up, many of her relatives had elephantiasis, an end-stage symptom of LF. A few years ago one of her uncles developed elephantiasis, and many people were experiencing unexplained fevers. She was concerned that the parasite may still be circulating in the community. Eileen discussed this with her father, Chief Bernard Otuana and the Atoifi Health Research Group were invited to investigate if the LF parasite was still present in the Shortland Islands.

In January 2015, a team of researchers of Humpress Harrington, Eileen Otuana, Professor Rick Speare and Dr David MacLaren travelled to the Shortland Islands to investigate LF transmission. LF is still a problem in neighboring Bougainville in PNG (Graves et al 2013), and many people travel back and forth from Bougainville. Testing for LF in Shortland Islands is therefore very important. Funded by a grant from the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University, the team partnered with leaders in 3 villages on the island of Fauro (all have had residents with elephantiasis) to conduct information sessions and tests. There were strong beliefs about elephantiasis and sorcery, and villagers were appreciative of the information that elephantiasis can be caused by a parasite. The team found no evidence of current transmission of LF however further tests are now being conducted at James Cook University to confirm these initial results.

The team would like to thank Chief Bernard Otuana the communities of Samanagho, Toumua and Kariki for their support and hospitality during this recent research activity. For more information, please email: Mr Humpress Harrington, Atoifi Hospital humpress.harrington@gmail.com

Photo: Rick Speare, Humpress Harrington, Eileen Otuana and David MacLaren leaving Toumua village in Outer Shortland Islands

LF References:
Harrington, H., J. Asugeni, C. Jimuru, J. Gwalaa, E. Ribeyro, R. Bradbury, H. Joseph, W. Melrose, D. MacLaren and R. Speare (2013). A practical strategy for responding to a case of lymphatic filariasis post-elimination in Pacific Islands. Parasites & Vectors 6(1): 218. http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/6/1/218

Graves PM, Makita L, Susapu M, Brady MA, Melrose W, Capuano C, Zhang Z, Dapeng L, Ozaki M, Reeve D, Ichimori K, Kazadi WM, Michna F, Bockarie MJ, Kelly-Hope LA (2013). Lymphatic filariasis in Papua New Guinea: distribution at district level and impact of mass drug administration, 1980 to 2011. Parasitises & Vectors 6 (1):7. http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/6/1/7

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: humpress.harrington@gmail.com

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: https://www.facebook.com/pwmpng/posts/763730163696926

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