The work done by this team is supported by the St Vincents Hospital Fiji Scabies Trust Fund. Donations to this fund are tax deductible.
2013 Scabies Research Team
Since 2006, Margot Whitfeld and her team from St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, now partnered with Dr Andrew Steer from the Murdoch Children's Institute in Melbourne and the extended team from the Kirby Institute at UNSW, have been working in Fiji and with the Fijian health community looking at, and helping with the widespread problem of scabies.
Margot also regularly volunteers at the skin clinic at Tamavua Twomey Hospital in Suva when in Fiji on her research trips.
The problem of Albinism in Fiji and the Pacific has been the recent focus, and Margot helped to conduct the first Fiji Albinism workshop at the Fiji School for the Blind in November, and as a result of recommendations made there, the first Fiji Albinism Awareness Symposium is planned for the 12th and 13th August 2015.
Andrew Steer is also conducting research into the best way to diagnose and treat rheumatic heart disease in Fiji, a disease which causes much death and disability there.
Margot and Andrew have been passionate about health in Fiji over the last 10 years and it is very exciting to now see it reach this point with the help of such a capable team and the support of both Australian and Fijian governments. As Margot said in a recent Radio National interview “the success of such a program is determined by the will of the country” and a lot of hard work from many dedicated people.
Scabies is a skin disease caused by a tiny eight-legged mite that burrows under the skin. The broken skin can become infected with bacteria causing boils and other serious skin infections like cellulitis as well as complications including septicaemia, kidney failure, rheumatic heart disease and even death.
We have a scabies team of two full time project officers, one from Australia, Ms Lucia Romani, and one from Fiji, Mr Aminiasi Koroi.
The team includes dermatologists, paediaticians, epidemiologists and stasticians from Australia and Fiji.
With the help of funding from the Australian Goverment’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2012, and the backing of Fiji’s Ministry of Health, the 2 year trial is nearly complete, the first meeting of all the trial staff, local doctors and nurses and researchers was held in 2013, the culmination of years of effort , by many people.
There also has been local Australian support over the years with a fundraiser and donations of supplies for isolated schools when Margot has visited, at times with her family helping.