Reflections on a Community Engagement Strategy for Mass Antimalarial Drug Administration in Cambodia.
Peto TJ., Tripura R., Davoeung C., Nguon C., Nou S., Heng C., Kunthea P., Adhikari B., Lim R., James N., Pell C., Cheah PY.
Mass drug administration (MDA) to interrupt malaria transmission requires the participation of entire communities. As part of a clinical trial in western Cambodia, four villages received MDA in 2015-2016. Before approaching study communities, a collaboration was established with the local health authorities, village leaders, and village malaria workers. Formative research guided the development of engagement strategies. In each village, a team of volunteers was formed to explain MDA to their neighbors and provide support during implementation. Public mobilization events featuring drama and music were used to introduce MDA. Villages comprised groups with different levels of understanding and interests; therefore, multiple tailored engagement strategies were required. The main challenges were explaining malaria transmission, managing perceptions of drug side effects, and reaching mobile populations. It was important that local leaders took a central role in community engagement. Coverage during each round of MDA averaged 84%, which met the target for the trial.