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.
Photo: Relmah Harrington examines children for scabies