Director of Australian Museum visits Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre

by Tommy Esau, Research Worker

On 19 August, Dr. Rebecca Johnson the Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute accompanied by Dr. Tyron Lavery from the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA and Dr. David Maclaren from James Cook University and members from the Kwaio community walked an epic but spectacular 8 hours walk to visit the Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre in the Kwaio mountains. The trip was to see the Cultural Centre and meet with communities about health and conservation programs in the mountain.

The visit was significant and demonstrate the partnership and commitment that Kwainaa`isi and the Australian Museum had established over the past 2 years on conservation, local Cultural knowledge about plants and animals and their Cultural school. During the stay at the Cultural Centre, Kwainaa`isi put on a remarkable day proudly celebrating the strong culture of the people of Kwaio. Various activities were displayed includes: shell money making, weaving baskets, combs, making bamboos inti different musical instruments like `au (panpipe), `aa`imae (chanting with bamboo sticks about historical music) and gigilo (stamping bamboos).

The day ended with celebrations of binubinu (group dancing) and feasting. Rebecca expressed that she was excited and privileged to witness the event for the first time in her life. She stated that it is important to maintain the important and unique cultural traditions which have been lost in many parts of the world. “I’m happy to see that you keep your culture, land, plants and animals which is very important”.

Part of Rebecca’s visit to was to meet with the chiefs, leaders and members of the Kwainaa`isi to discuss about the Cultural School and the conservation program. With the support of Rebecca and the Australian Museum team, the Kwainaa`isi Cultural school now has three teachers to teach basic numbers, reading, writing and Kwaio Language. In addition, 12 instructors teach different aspects of Kwaio culture and customs such as music, arts and history for five days a week.

The discussion also highlighted some positive feedback and outcomes about the conservation program. The work is progressing well and many community leaders have supported the work because it has been benefiting the communities, both their environment and income to support their families. Many leaders and chiefs have expressed that the work of teaching and maintaining our culture and customs was our longtime dream. Land is our mother and our culture and custom is who we are.

During the trip, a three day training workshop in GPS mapping, camera traps, setting nets for bats was conducted by Tyron Lavery to establish conservation strategies for Kwainaa’isi, Kafurumu and Aifasi conservation areas. Training demonstrated how to take photos of captured cats for comparisons to camera trap images. Rangers patrol the conservation areas on a regular basis for illegal activities, such as hunting and forest exploitation.

As part of the training, a first conservation area `Eriani Kwete in Kwainaa`isi was mapped. Monthly checks will start in September. Rangers agree to check camera traps on every first day monthly. The local rangers were excited about the conservation strategy and new knowledge and skills gained that would be useful for their future work through a participative approach.

We thank the Australian Museum for recognizing our dreams and desires. We wish that this collaboration continued well into the future, so this important work can be recognized and carried forward by our younger generations.

For more information about the health and conservation work at Kwainaa`isi Please contact Mr. Tommy Esau at or Dr. David Maclaren at

Second Health Research Symposium held at Atoifi, Solomon Islands

by Hillary Toloka, Research Nurse, Atoifi Hospital

Health researchers from across Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, England, Switzerland and Australia gathered at Atoifi Hospital on Tuesday 15 August to attend the 2nd Atoifi Health Research Symposium. The 72 participants included community leaders, staff nurses, student nurses, probationer nurses and administrative leaders of Atoifi Hospital. Invited guests from both the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Honiara and Provincial Health in Kuluufi Hospital, Malaita Province also attended. Our research partners from James Cook University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine along with Research Fellows from different Provinces in Solomon Islands and from Papua New Guinea also attended.

Research presentations included detection and treatment of yaws and syphilis, malaria in pregnancy, infection control, patient satisfaction at Atoifi Hospital, and impact of scabies treatment with ivermectin on the prevalence of headlice in the Solomon. A reproductive health presentation about the use of Jandelle implants was delivered, and research findings about community perceptions on skin disease were reported.

Acting Chief Executive Office of Atoifi Hospital, Ms Rowena Asugeni, presented about research capacity building for health research and Mr Humpress Harrington presented a session entitled, 'Developing local models to strengthen and improve capacity in health research in Melanesia'.

Participants attending the Symposium expressed that it was an “eye opener” to attend such a well organised symposium in a remote setting like Atoifi Hospital, East Kwaio. A wonderful mixture of presentation both from Nurses and the Community researchers were reminded by research leaders that anybody can do research and that this Symposium went someway to involving a variety of community and health workers in health research.

Local community leaders who attended the Symposium expressed their gratitude for being part of the Symposium, they were impressed to see the real research data presented by local researchers. One community leader expressed that he was pleased to be informed about what was happening in his community and to learn what measures could be taken to improve health. Local community leaders also expressed their willingness to support the research work in their communities in the future.

For more information about health research being conducted by the Atoifi Health Research Group, please email or

Photo (courtesy David MacLaren): Some of the participants at the 2nd Atoifi Health Research Symposium

Atoifi to host Second Health Research Symposium this week

Health researchers from across Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, England and Australia will gather at Atoifi Hospital this week to attend the Second Atoifi Health Research Symposium. With the theme of 'Towards Rural and Remote Health Excellence through Research', the Symposium will be held on Tuesday 15 August. Research presentations about detection and treatment of yaws and syphilis, malaria in pregnancy, infection control and patient satisfaction at Atoifi Hospital will be delivered. Reproductive health and community perceptions on skin disease will also be discussed.

Acting Chief Executive Office of Atoifi Hospital, Ms Rowena Asugeni will present about research capacity building for health research and Mr Humpress Harrington will present a session entitled, 'Developing local models to strengthen and improve capacity in health research in Melanesia'.

"This Symposium marks an exciting development for research in Solomon Islands", said Mr Humpress Harrington, who is undertaking his PhD at James Cook University (JCU) exploring appropriate research capacity strengthening models for Pacific contexts. "For Atoifi to be able to host a Symposium in a remote location and present so much locally generated data is a great step forward'.

The Symposium is also the launch of a week-long, DFAT-funded research capacity development workshop being conducted by JCU in partnership by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Solomon Islands. Designed to increase research capacity to address infectious diseases, the workshop is part of a larger program of research across the Pacific (2017-2018).

For more information about the Symposium, please contact rowenaasugeni[at] or humpress.harrington[at]

Photo (courtesy of Dr Michael Marks): Atoifi researchers administering treatment as a part of the Yaws research project. This project is being conducted on Malaita, Solomon Islands in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Leaders discuss research capacity strengthening with WHO TDR

This week Mr Humpress Harrington (Pacific Adventist University) and Dr David MacLaren (James Cook University) have attended a workshop at the University of Nairobi in Kenya to learn more about the WHO TDR ‘Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative’. TDR is the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty.

Humpress and David have witnessed how emerging health researchers in Kenya are being supported through the TDR program, and how the TDR programme could be used to strengthen health research training in the Pacific.

While in Kenya, Humpress and David met with Dr Eddie Kamau from the WHO TDR program. The Atoifi Health Research Group has received two grants from WHO TDR (2014 and 2015), with these grants supporting a series of research training workshops and many of the ‘learn-by-doing’ projects at Atoifi.

During the meeting, key achievements of the Atoifi Health Research Group's grass-roots approach to strengthening research capacity were discussed, and future plans proposed.

For more information about the TDR funded work being conducted by the Atoifi Health Research Group, please email: or

Photo (L-R): Dr Eddie Kamau (WHO TDR), Mr Humpress Harrington (PAU), Dr David MacLaren (JCU)