Research aims to improve health outcomes for Pacific

The more Tisiola Sarah Adela Talalima has learned about the health inequalities Pacific people face, the more intrigued she has become about creating better health outcomes through research for them.

Tisiola is currently studying a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago, in her hometown of Dunedin. 

Of Tongan descent, Tisiola has focused her honours project on the Southern Cross tuberculosis strain that circulates within Pacific communities in Aotearoa and throughout the region.   

“I hope to discover why Pasifika peoples are disproportionately affected by tuberculosis and implement prevention strategies within communities,” Tisiola says. 

“I also hope this research will have a positive impact on Pacific Aotearoa by creating better health outcomes.” 

Last week, the aspiring researcher was recognised for her diligence to date, when she received a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship at the Southern Region Toloa Awards.  

Established in 2015, the Toloa Tertiary Scholarships initiative is one of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) flagship programmes, which supports Pacific students to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Capped at $10,000 per year, the scholarship covers tuition and compulsory fees.

Tisiola’s inclusion in this year’s scholarship recipient list is a huge honour, she says.

“I am grateful that my hard work has been recognised, and I am excited to continue studying and giving back as much as I can to the Pacific community through my work.” 

Tisiola says initiatives like this are important as more Pacific people are needed in STEM. 

“We have first-hand experience with issues that impact all Pacific people. 

“This cultural connection is a driving force behind those who are passionate about improving the lives of Pacific people through STEM.”


Photo supplied Caption: Tisiola Sarah Adela Talalima