The Group’s Projects

Project Descriptions (select title for details)

World Health Organization (WHO) Tropical Diseases Research strengthening (2014)

Solomon Islands – Strengthening Operational Research for Disease Control

Since 2009, a local research culture has blossomed at Atoifi, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands. Local health professionals at Atoifi Adventist Hospital and Atoifi College of Nursing are partnering with village leaders and Australian researchers on a range of research capacity strengthening activities. Activities focus on local, feasible operational research projects conducted at minimal-cost.
Research outputs have been considerable, both academic and improved service delivery. Locally produced research evidence is informing local health policy and strategies. However, research capacity is still in its infancy. To enable activities to move from current formative research to intervention and implementation research requires additional financial and academic support.

This project has five components:

  1. three one-week workshops to strengthen theoretical knowledge and skills;
  2. six feasible local projects to enact these skills;
  3. face-to-face and remote mentoring of individuals and research groups;
  4. logistic support for research projects by employing a research project officer;
  5. a central repository of research equipment available for local projects.

The activity will involve over 50 local staff, nursing students, and village leaders (chiefs, pastors, teachers, women’s leaders) and five Australian researchers.

To read the Report from the First Workshop in 2014, please click here

For more information about this project contact: humpress.harrington@gmail.com or rick.speare@gmail.com

Tuberculosis (2013; 2014)

Photo credit: Tommy Esau

Late presentation to the hospital with TB has been a problem in East Kwaio, particularly for the mountain people owing to a number of barriers including cultural issues (Massey et al 2012). This project along with other initiatives is starting to improve TB case detection rates in East Kwaio.

In 2013, a DVD was produced as part of an Australian Respiratory Council funded project. The project management team consisted of community leaders from the mountains and the coast, and health professionals from Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Atoifi College of Nursing, James Cook University, Hunter-New England NSW Health and Tropical Health Solutions.

See story here

In 2014, a second Australian Respiratory Council funded project began. This project will develop and trial a series of video-based education resources about community-based TB treatment and completion in East Malaita, Solomon Islands. The project will work closely with health workers and community leaders and use a traditional Solomon Islands oral story telling model of education and communication.

For more information about this project contact: relmah.harrington@atoifi.org.sb, rowena.asugeni@gmail.com or peter.massey@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

Soil-transmitted Helmiths (2014)

Photo credit: David MacLaren

Current soil transmitted helminth (STH) control programs do not attempt to eliminate STH, but just to control clinical impact in vulnerable groups, like children. We wish to test the hypothesis that STH can be eliminated in remote, isolated villages in developing countries, one village at a time. We will test this in 4 villages in East Kwaio, Malaita, Solomon Islands. Of the four villages, we already have baseline STH data on three. The elimination program will be driven by villagers themselves, not by outside agencies. Use of a two-way research capacity building model, combined with participatory action research, will ensure that each village has the skills, local data and expert support to enact their expressed goal to design a village-specific STH elimination program. Each village is at a different phase along the STH elimination journey. If the one village at a time hypothesis is supported, it will position the study group to apply for more substantial funding from international or national donors to run a larger multiple baseline study.

This study is important since the World Health Organization, which promotes STH morbidity control, is looking for models to move to STH transmission control- that is, STH elimination.

For more information about this project contact: humpress.harrington@gmail.com or rick.speare@gmail.com

Lymphatic Filariasis (2012)

Malaria (2013-2014)

Photo credit: AusAID(accessed 12.5.2014)

Assessment of malaria trends from 2008 to 2012.

Annual Parasite Index (API) for Solomon Islands in 2009 was 77/1000 (Atkinson et al 2012). From analysis of the AAH Laboratory Malaria book the API for one month only (Jan 2008) was 54/1000 for the Atoifi catchment area.

The project will enter all records from 2008 -2012 and calculate trends in malaria and other indices for catchment, zones and villages. We estimate there are 35,000 records. A workshop on the theory of data management and analysis, plus hands-on assistance will ensure that this is not only a magnificent learning tool but will lead to significant findings that will influence planning and interventions.

For more information about this project contact:rick.speare@gmail.com

Reference: Atkinson, J. A., Johnson, M. L., Wijesinghe, R., Bobogare, A., Losi, L., O'Sullivan, M., Shanks, D. (2012). Operational research to inform a sub-national surveillance intervention for malaria elimination in Solomon Islands. Malaria Journal, 11, 101.

Head Lice (2014)

Photo credit: Tropical Health Solutions accessed 12.5.2014

A head lice project is underway in East Kwaio. Chief Investigator, Humpress Harrington, and most of the researchers are from East Kwaio and work at Atoifi in the Hospital or are members of the community. They are local people who are well known to the residents of the villages. This project involves conducting surveys to determine the prevalence of head lice in families and asking adults to complete a questionnaire. All activities will enhance the relationships between the community and the researchers since the request for this study has come from the community.

The aims of the project are as follows:

  1. To determine the prevalence of pediculosis and intensity of infection in children and adults at Atoifi campus and other villages in East Kwaio;
  2. To investigate the knowledge, attitudes and practices around pediculosis of adults at Atoifi and other villages in East Kwaio;
  3. To evaluate local customary remedies for pediculosis in laboratory tests using head lice collected from participants.

COMING SOON: A systematic review of the literature about head lice in Pacific island countries has been conducted and will be available here soon.

For more information about this project contact: humpress.harrington@gmail.com or rick.speare@gmail.com

For more information about head lice see: http://www.tropicalhealthsolutions.com/headlice

Biodiversity (2014-2015)

Photo Credit: David MacLaren

Traditional knowledge, customary stewardship and strengthening practical approaches to conservation management projects in Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

In mid-2014, a new research project, based in East Kwaio, will begin. Led by Dr David MacLaren, this biodiversity project will take place with people of the Kwaio language group, on the island of Malaita, Solomon Islands. The Kwaio people are the largest Solomon Islands group still practicing their indigenous ancestral religion.

The biodiversity conservation project will document local medicinal plants and bush foods found in the rainforest and build capacity to undertake similar projects in the future. Activities will centralize indigenous Kwaio traditions and customs and be led by two local indigenous Kwaio leaders with the support of local and international partners. There are no foreseen adverse impacts on indigenous people living in the area given the leadership and approach used in the project. The project will also deliver capacity-strengthening activities and training in project management, organizational governance and financial management. As part of this, the team will support the design and delivery of a locally instigated biodiversity conservation project using a ‘learn by doing’ approach.

For more information contact: david.maclaren@jcu.edu.au