Developing local models to strengthen health research in Solomon Islands

Mr Humpress Harrington, former Head of Atoifi campus of Pacific Adventist University is currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia. As a Foundation member of the Atoifi Health Research Group, Humpress is passionate about indigenising models of health research. Humpress’s PhD study is exploring local models to improve health research capacity that suit Melanesia.

Below Humpress shares with us about his recent trip to Solomon Islands. He interviewed 48 government officials, politicians, people working in higher education and people who had undertaken higher degree research or other research training in health-related fields.

Humpress, can you tell us a little about your recent trip to Solomon Islands?
During December I am usually on holiday in Western Province with my family. However this December was special, as I travelled from Australia to Solomon Islands for a data collection trip. I started interviewing colleagues in Gizo at the end of December – I even interviewed some colleagues on the 25th while others were enjoying themselves celebrating Christmas day! After a brief visit to my home village (Chea in Marovo Lagoon) to see my parents, I boarded the MV Andjanet and sailed to Honiara. Because of the cyclonic conditions, a ten hour journey took us almost two days! Once in Honiara, I continued to conduct interviews people. I then travelled to Atoifi, in East Kwaio, Malaita to interview people there. I interviewed 48 people during my time in Solomon Islands.

What were the most surprising things you learnt from the people you interviewed?
It is very interesting to learn that research is something not very many people know about or understand. This limited knowledge of health research and its potential benefits to institutions and the health system indicates a need to encourage locally appropriate health research training in Solomon Islands. Despite people’s limited knowledge about research, individual interest to learn how to conduct research is very high. Another surprising thing was that the provision of relevant and high quality research training that is directly suitable for Solomon Islands is something that nobody has really taken very seriously in the past. Finally, there are currently no tools available to adequately measure the impact or outcomes of the health research training that Solomon Islanders have undertaken so far, either in-country or overseas.

What are your next steps?
My next step is to prepare for my PhD Confirmation Seminar at JCU, which will take place in February 2019. I will then transcribe and analyse the data I have collected. This analysis will inform next set of interviews I will conduct during my next trip to Solomon Islands in March/April. After that I will complete data analysis on all of the interviews and write up my findings. These findings will be reported in a series of presentations and publications in Solomon Islands and Australia.

Humpress Harrington is studying his PhD at the College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University supervised by Associate Professor David MacLaren, Professor Sarah Larkins and Professor Maxine Whittaker. If you would like more information about this research, please email:

Photo (supplied by H. Harrington): Humpress (right of engine) travelling in East Kwaio with colleagues
Story: by Michelle Redman-MacLaren, with Humpress Harrington

Infection Control study at Atoifi Adventist Hospital gets underway

Data collection for the study “Improving infection control at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands: A participatory action research approach” commenced at Atoifi in October 2018. This study uses a technique called ‘Photovoice’. This technique involved health workers, cleaners, cooks and maintenance staff at the hospital taking photos in response to the statement; “From your perspective, how does sickness pass from one person to another at Atoifi Hospital?” All of the photos were downloaded onto a computer, printed and laminated.
People were then asked to select a few of the best photos that had the most meaning. They were asked to talk about their photos using the acronym PHOTO as a guide.
P = Describe your Picture
H = What is Happening in your picture?
O = Why did you take a picture of this?
T = What does your picture Tell us about your role in the hospital?
O = How can this picture provide Opportunities to improve infection control at Atoifi Adventist Hospital?
The stories behind each photo will be analyzed to help understanding issues around infection control at the hospital. When this is complete further workshops will discuss what can be done to improve infection control at the hospital.

Thank you to the staff that participated and also to the hospital administration for supporting this research.

Vanessa Sparke
Lecturer, Nursing and Midwifery
James Cook University, Cairns Campus
Queensland, Australia

Photo: Becky Ngatulu, Daisy Fatalaea and Hemaema Toloka looking at the photos and deciding on the ones they want to discuss in the interview.

Photo supplied by Vanessa Sparke.

Head Lice Survey at Atoifi Hospital

Story by Relmah Harrington

Researchers from the Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) have recently authored a study about how Ivermectin can reduce the prevalence of head lice. Ivermectin is a medication that is effective against many types of parasites. We already know from other studies that mass drug administration (MDA), with ivermectin, can reduce the number of people who have scabies and intestinal worms in Solomon Islands. However, there has never been a study to document how ivermectin MDA will reduce head lice in these villages.

With this as a background, the team screened 118 people and found that 30 people (25%) had active head lice. Everyone was treated with ivermectin. After two weeks only 3 people had active head lice (2.5%) and after three months only 8 people (8%) had active head lice.

The good news? This study found that ivermectin can dramatically reduce the burden of active head lice infestation. This is great because we now have proof that when a MDA with ivermectin is conducted in villages to reduce scabies or intestinal parasites, it will also reduce head lice. This will be an added health benefit to people in these villages.

The article can be found at:

For further information please contact: Dr Michael Marks ( or Rowena Asugeni (

Photo credit: sourced from

Local ownership of WASH responses are required in Pacific schools

To celebrate #WorldToiletDay2018, a blog has been published by the 'Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) Blog' at the University of Leeds.

The blog was written by Dr Dani Barrington, University of Leeds, and AHRG members Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren, James Cook University and Mr Humpress Harrington, PhD Candidate, James Cook University and past Head of Atoifi Campus, Pacific Adventist University.

Exploring the importance of ownership for successful WASH responses in Pacific schools, especially for girls and for students with a disability, the use of a tree metaphor was developed by Mr Harrington.

"The system components can be seen as the branches of a tree", says Mr Harrington, "while the roots of the tree are the socio-cultural contexts, ways of knowing and ways of learning".

To read the blog in full, visit: see:

To read the recently published scoping review of WASH in the Pacific (open access), visit:

For more information, please email:

For more information about the tree image, please read: