Australian High Commissioner visits Atoifi

This story is republished from the Facebook page of Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands.

"On 11 and 12 December 2017, the Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Mr Roderick Brazier met with Mr Tommy Esau, the leader of the Conservation and Research Team at the Atoifi Adventist Hospital.

The research team is predominantly made up of locals from East Kwaio, Malaita, in collaboration with various overseas partners. The team's involvement with the highlands communities in East Kwaio is through a community and participative approach, where aspects of their work focus on conservation, research and preservation regarding local plants, insects and animals.

The hard working team have also worked on health research for Atoifi Adventist Hospital through a grassroots Learning-By-Doing approach. Here, the group's aim is to conduct research that enables the hospital and communities to understand health issues affecting local communities, as well as find ways to mitigate and manage infectious diseases.

Thank you to the Conservation and Research Team at the Atoifi Adventist Hospital for sharing their work and findings with the Australian High Commission."

Source: Accessed 16 December, 2017

Photo: Australian High Commission team, including the Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Mr Roderick Brazier (3rd from Left), with Mrs Dorothy Esau, Mr Tommy Esau and Mr Hillary Toloka in the Research Room, Pacific Adventist Uni (Atoifi campus).

Photo credit: Australian High Commission Facebook page:

A community builds a 'bridge': Responding to sea level rise in East Kwaio

Villagers in Solomon Islands are resilient and resourceful. As governments struggle to provide the most basic of services in low resource setting such as Solomon Islands, the benefits of low-cost, community-led responses are significant.

Community members in rural Solomon Islands are facing real challenges as the sea rises. Women struggle to return from the garden with their produce during high tide time, with one woman from East Kwaio explaining,

"Mifala putim basket lo head and swim kam. Sea save
waepim face, go insait lo eye, but mifala mus carryim
kaikai for olketa pikini. Mifala swim lo high tide."

(We put our basket on our heads and swim. The sea
splashes our face and goes in our eyes, but we must carry
the food for our children. We swim in the high tide.).

A new article by members of the Atoifi Health Research group reports a case study of community action to mitigate against sea level rise in East Kwaio, Malaita. Authors of the article include East Kwaio community leaders Ms Rowena Asugeni, Mr James Asugeni, Mr Tommy Esau and Mr Frank Timothy.

Details of the article are:
A community builds a “bridge”: an example of community-led adaptation to sea-level rise in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands
Rowena Asugeni, Michelle Redman-MacLaren, James Asugeni, Tommy Esau, Frank Timothy, Peter Massey & David MacLaren

For a copy of the article, please email or

Photo: Woman walking on the new bridge between Abitona and Wyfolonga villages, East Kwaio (Photo credit: James Asugeni)

Atoifi contributes to National Health Research Symposium

'Building the foundation for the future’ was the theme for the 1st National Health Research Symposium in Honiara last week, co-hosted by the Research Department of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and James Cook University (JCU).

From Monday 27th to Wednesday 29th November, 2017 over 100 researchers, policy makers and health workers gathered at SINU in Honiara to listen to 27 present research activities/findings and exchange ideas.

Mr Hillary Toloka, Research Nurse from Atoifi presented findings about the community treatment of yaws and scabies in East Kwaio, Mr James Asugeni presented 'Incorporating Sociocultural Beliefs in Mental Health Services in Kwaio, Solomon Islands', while Mr Kenny Motoa presented his research being conducted about nurses' knowledge of hand hygiene at Atoifi Hospital.

Mrs Helen Oloifana-Polosovai, Medical Laboratory Scientist from Atoifi Hospital (pictured with Mrs Dorothy Esau, AHRG Research Worker) won an Award of Excellence for her presentation of 'The Prevalence of Malaria Infection in Pregnant women in Malaita Island.[Solomon Islands] 2006-2010 and 2012-2016' - congratulations Helen!

Eleven of the researchers presenting were from the JCU Tropical Partners program, who had attended a research training workshop at Atoifi in September.

On Wednesday 29 November, a popular workshop about GIS mapping for health was conducted, while the AHRG presented a day-long workshop on research design and methodology.

Ms Fred Pitakaka, Chief Research Officer of the Ministry of Health stated, "In Solomon Islands, health research activity has been modest due to limited resources and capacities". She went on to explain that there is "a gradual increase of emerging local researchers as compared to previous years. This indicates the increasing capacity of MHMS workforce to conduct health research relevant to local health issues".

The participants celebrated the success of the Symposium with a dinner and presentation of awards on Wednesday night. Mr Michael Larui, National Head of Nursing, MHMS reminded guests of the Atoifi Health Research Group's mantra, 'small is beautiful': small, locally-driven research about local health issues can make a positive difference for improved health for all.

For more information about the Symposium, please email Ms Freda Pitakaka: freda.pitakaka[at]

For more information about the work of Atoifi Health Research Group, please email Mr Humpress Harrington: humpress.harrington[at]

Atoifi Group members enhance infectious diseases research across the Pacific

Atoifi Health Research Group members Mr Humpress Harrington and Dr David MacLaren are leading research capacity strengthening activities across the Pacific to mitigate and manage infectious diseases. Group members Dr Peter Massey and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren are also mentoring Research Fellows to develop important research skills. These activities are part of a large DFAT-funded project that will help minimise the spread of infectious disease in the Indo-Pacific.

The story below was first published by AITHM at James Cook University.

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) at James Cook University (JCU) has been awarded a $1.8M research grant to work towards building tropical partnerships and strengthening health system responses to infectious disease in the Indo-Pacific.

This major tropical disease research initiative, announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade’s newly announced Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, will respond to infectious diseases such as Zika and TB in the region and strengthen local-level capacity to undertake surveillance and respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Led by Professor Emma McBryde, a world leading TB clinician and researcher, the partnership includes a team of experienced and multidisciplinary researchers at JCU, other Australian universities, and regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

Together, the research team will provide expertise and build capacity in Indo-Pacific countries for risk reduction and management of health risks that help the countries meet their International Health Regulation and national health security requirements in surveillance and response, laboratory capacity, planning and governance to prevent disease threats.

“One major element of this grant is that we will work with partners in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to strengthen local capacity to detect, treat and prevent cases of TB, map the public health systems activities and help them to address any gaps with regard to the International Health Regulation requirements,” Professor McBryde said.

This project aims to provide the Indo-Pacific region with a stronger health system surveillance and response capacity to support timely, effective responses to emerging and existing infectious disease threats.

“The project will deliver a consortium of institutes in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region that can provide innovative tools for policy evaluation and decision support, research mentorship, workforce development, continual quality improvement and mutual learning.

“Using modelling techniques, we’ll be able to identify the risk of endemic spread or cross-border infection, this data will then inform the best ways to address TB on a country-specific basis.

“We’ll also provide enhanced Zika surveillance and responses in the Solomon Islands and identify control activities to avoid the rapid and devastating impacts of these emerging infectious diseases,” Professor McBryde said.

Australia’s Ambassador for Regional Health Security, Blair Exell said that this project was a demonstration of Australia’s commitment to improve health security in the Indo-Pacific.

“Collaborations and partnerships such as this are essential in delivering health security in our region.

“Well supported research will strengthen health systems and capacities in our region to mitigate and manage infectious disease threats”, Mr Exell said.

AITHM Director, Professor Louis Schofield said that this grant supports AITHM’s role in tackling some of the world’s biggest health challenges facing the Tropics.

“Australia’s northern borders are highly susceptible to infectious diseases such as Zika and TB, and they pose a huge burden on Tropical regions, including Australia’s near neighbours.

“AITHM is on the front foot in the face of these threats and this grant builds on AITHM’s reputation for leadership in the field of Tropical health and medicine,” Professor Schofield said.

Original story here:$1.8m-funding-to-tackle-tb,-zika-and-other-infectious-diseases

For more information about the role of Atoifi Health Research Group members, email:

Photo: Lead Investigators and Project Team, including Mr Humpress Harrington and Dr David MacLaren; photo via @AITropHealthMed