Atoifi Health Research Group assists with Scabies Survey in Choiseul Province

By Relmah Harrington, Midwife Researcher

Scabies is a common skin disease in Solomon Islands. Scabies is caused by a small mite that burrows into the skin which can lead to intense itching, which then can lead to skin sores and other infections. The good news is that scabies is easily treatable with a one off dose of a drug called ivermectin.

From 6th – 19th August 2018, a follow-up scabies survey was conducted in ten villages across Choiseul Province. Relmah Harrington from Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) and Tanya Leketo, a nurse-graduate from Pacific Adventist University Atoifi Campus joined Dr Michael Marks from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who led the survey.

The first scabies survey in Choiseul province was in 2015 and conducted by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Choiseul provincial health and LSHTM. After this first scabies survey, a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of Ivermectin was given to treat scabies in Choiseul Province.

The 2018 scabies survey was a 3-year follow up after the 2015 MDA of ivermectin to assess whether the rate of scabies has gone down and remained low after the MDA. When all of the results are compiled, they will assist the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services to assess the overall effectiveness of ivermectin in Choiseul province. This will inform future plans and drug procurements to manage scabies in Solomon Islands and in similar settings in other Pacific Island nations.

Feedback from the communities involved in the survey was very positive. Communities actively supported the survey because of their interest to strive for healthy communities. As researchers from AHRG, it was very impressive to see how communities organized themselves. Partnerships like this offer a potential pathway to provide results for successful health initiatives for not only scabies, but other diseases that affect our communities.

For more information please contact Dr Michael Marks or Ms Relmah Harrington

Photo: Relmah Harrington examines children for scabies

Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre features in Inaugural Resource Management Report

By Tommy Esau, Research Worker

Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre features on the front cover of the recently released Report of the 1st Solomon Islands Resources Management Symposium. Kwainaa`isi works to retain traditional knowledge and promote Kwaio culture and conservation in Kwaio, Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Kwainaa`isi was represented at the 1st Solomon Islands Resource Management Symposium held in Honiara during October, 2017. The Symposium brought together more than 300 representatives from ministries, provincial governments, civil society organizations, women’s and youth groups, and communities from all over the country to share experiences on natural resource management. Over four days, more than 60 presentations were given.

Chief Esau Kekeubata, the Coordinator of Kwainaa`isi and Secretary, Mr Tommy Esau, presented during the Symposium about the amazing work they are doing on traditional knowledge preservation and conservation in the Kwaio mountains in Chief Kekeubata explained, “the aim of the Kwainaa’isi Cultural Centre project is to build research capacity among Kwaio people to document and preserve knowledge of local culture and history, and develop and strengthen approaches to conserving Malaita’s highland rainforests.”

Kwainaa`isi has demonstrated an impressive capacity among Kwaio people to document plants and animals on their tribal lands and strengthen conservation in their area, in partnership with leading scientists. Kwanaa`isi’s work was recognised when Chief Kekeubata and Mr Esau were presented with the “Conservation champions” Award, as documented in the Report.

The Symposium was organized by The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR)--in collaboration with Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands (ESSI), the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and WorldFish.

You can read the proceedings of the 1st Solomon Islands Resources Management Symposium for free here:

Kwainaa’isi Cultural Centre is a key member of the Atoifi Health Research Group. The Cultural Centre centralise traditional knowledge that informs cultural approaches to health care and community-based research.

For more information, please contact Mr Tommy Esau:

Local water and sanitation solutions required in Pacific

For girl students, and students with a disability in the Pacific, attending school can be difficult. In part, this is because there is often a lack of adequate washing and toilet facilities. For girl students who are menstruating, they may not attend school if there are not adequate facilities or they may leave part way through the day. In some schools in the Pacific, there are no washing and toilet facilities for any students. The lack of facilities means some students do not get the education they deserve.

This was one finding from the recent review of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) literature that focused on girl students, and students with a disability in Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Written by Atoifi Health Research Group members, along with WASH and development specialists, the review shows that the sustainable WASH systems in Pacific schools need to focus on the end user, that is the students, in partnership with their teachers, families and communities.

The promising examples of successful WASH solutions in schools were solutions that used simple, locally available materials to respond to needs identified by the students themselves.

You can read the review for free here:

You can also listen to an interview about the review with Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren, conducted by ABC Radio’s Seini Taumoepeau from ABC Pacific Mornings: (WASH interview starts at 1hr 3 mins on time bar)

For more information about the review, please email Michelle Redman-MacLaren or Humpress Harrington

Health research training at Atoifi for Solomon Islands

Want to learn more about the Health Research training held at Atoifi from 21-25 May, 2018? Then watch this video, courtesy of the Atoifi Media team!

In the video, facilitators and Research Fellows discuss a health research training program adapted for Pacific island countries. Based on the WHO SORT-iT research capacity building program, this James Cook University-led training program was conducted in partnership with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and delivered at Atoifi Hospital in rural Malaita. The 20 Research Fellows were from Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

For more information, please contact Mr Humpress Harrington or Ms Freda Pitakaka