Radio Australia interview about Atoifi Health Research

While attending the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne, Michelle Redman-MacLaren, a member of the Atoifi Research group, was interviewed by Ms Christine Tiriman from Radio Australia. Michelle discussed current research projects at Atoifi and some of the challenges women from East Kwaio face when giving birth. Please follow the link below to read more and listen to the interview (in Solomon Islands Pijin).

Talking about it is just not enough!

Talking about it is just not enough! Learn- by-doing is key to research capacity strengthening at Atoifi Hospital. Today was no exception. Dr David MacLaren, from the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University facilitated a workshop focussed on how to write research proposals and report research findings. Key writing skills such as writing a strong topic sentence and the importance of well-structured paragraphs were discussed with 11 community leaders, Hospital and College of Nursing staff. Following the theory session, workshop participants put the theory into practice and started to draft research applications. Tonight the theory session was repeated with 21 participants, including 10 teachers from the local Waneagu Community School who are also keen to learn about research.

This three-day workshop, which focuses on data analysis and reporting research findings, is one of four workshops being funded by WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). The lead researcher for this grant, Mr Humpress Harrington, explained tonight (via Skype), “The session today was very good because I think it fits - I learnt a lot about how to write articles, especially academic articles.” Humpress went on to say, “The workshop today helped us organise our the past we just wrote out what we thought should be in there, but now we know what to do.”

Tomorrow the workshop continues with plans for participants to complete a short survey, create a database and calculate basic descriptive statistics together- stay tuned for further updates.

Image: Participants at today’s practical session on academic writing (L-R): James Asugeni, Solodia Chris, Tommy Esau, Frank Firiabae, Gilson Fangaria and Hilary Toloka.

Finding the worms! Atoifi Health Research Group to conduct parasite surveys

Tommy Esau on Ngongosila looks across to Kwai

Kwai and Ngongosila are two small island atolls about two kilometres off the Eastern coast of Malaita, Solomon Islands. Kwai is about 500 metres long and 100 metres wide and Ngongosila is about 300 metres long and 100 metres wide. They are home to approximately 1,000 people.

Over the past 4 years researchers from the Atoifi Health Research Group have been conducting parasite surveys in villages around Uru Harbour. In some villages almost half of the residents have hookworm. The good news is that these results have been used as a base to improve sanitation in these villages - see

Chiefs and community leaders from Kwai and Ngonisila have been aware that their people are also likely to have gutworms. They have seen the change in villages around Uru Harbour and thus invited researchers from Atoifi Hospital to do similar research on their islands. Atoifi-based researchers conducted extensive community consultation in early 2014 to talk with leaders and village families about the survey and what sanitation is available. Most people use ‘toilet’ structures that reach over the sea. An important focus of the community consultation was how to proceed with the gutworm survey while respecting local beliefs and traditions. This week researchers from James Cook University, Central Queensland University and Tropical Health Solutions are joining their Atoifi counterparts on Kwai and Ngongosila to support this important health research.

Following the parasite survey, another research capacity strengthening workshop will be conducted at Atoifi Hospital. The workshop will be the third in a series funded through a WHO Tropical Diseases Research grant administered by Atoifi Hospital. Community leaders, hospital staff and local researchers will learn more about data analysis and scientific writing.

For more information, please contact Mr Humpress Harrington, Principal Investigator WHO-TDR project at:

Photo: Tommy Esau, Research Worker on Ngongosila looks across to Kwai (photo provided by T. Esau)

Funds awarded for research about Lymphatic Filariasis in the Solomons

A research grant has been awarded to Dr David MacLaren and other members of the Atoifi Health Research Group to determine if there is active Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) transmission in the Shortland Islands. There has been no comprehensive survey for LF in the Shortland Islands within living memory and thus the LF status of the Shortland Islands is unknown. Community leaders have reported signs and symptoms of LF are still present in some people in their villages. With the Islands' proximity to PNG, which has the highest rates of LF globally, these reports cannot be ignored.

This research will further strengthen the capacity of Solomon Islander researchers to investigate cases of LF, as documented in the article: Harrington H, Asugeni A, Jimuru C, Gwalaa J, Ribeyro E, Bradbury R, Joseph H, Melrose W, MacLaren D, Speare R. A practical strategy for responding to a case of lymphatic filariasis post-elimination in Pacific Islands. Parasites and Vectors 2013;6:218

Members of the Atoifi Health Research Group thank the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University, Australia for their support of this important research.

Image: Elephantiasis of right leg of 44 year old male from Alasi, Malaita, Solomon Islands as reported by Harrington et al in 2013.