Communications: promoting acceptance and uptake of malaria services
Making good quality prevention and treatment services available is only one step in reducing the incidence of the disease. The target population must also play a role.
For the workforce there may be company policies which employees are expected to adhere to. This might include use of repellents or chemoprophylaxis for example. Companies may want to try to enforce compliance to a certain extent but with most interventions this will be hard to do. Achieving compliance with policy will be most successful if the workforce understands:
- The risks of malaria,
- The rationale for the different components of the malaria policy,
- Why other commonly known techniques may not be being used,
- The effectiveness of the approaches they are being asked to comply with,
- That they have an opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns e.g. about side effects of repellents or chemoprophylaxis
Workforce training and sensitization programmes can be rolled out in a number of ways using print materials, online short courses, recorded video presentations etc. An important component though is that employees are given the opportunity to interact and raise questions and concerns with someone qualified to give a full response. Click here and here to find more information on how to access further support.
Community-wide malaria control programmes also require substantial communications components in order to maximize effectiveness. Indoor residual spraying campaigns require the agreement of target communities to maximize the compliance of community members. Home owners must not only allow the spray teams access but also put considerable effort in to preparing their homes so that spray teams can access all walls and ceilings. In the case of insecticide treated bed-nets regular action may be required to encourage all family members to use their nets each night. High quality diagnostic and treatment services will only be useful in reducing the impact of disease if people with suspected malaria seek diagnosis promptly and accept the recommended treatment. Effective communication is key in every case.
For community-wide programmes therefore it is necessary to work closely with the community at the planning stages, to foster their support for the programme and ensure they have an opportunity to get involved in the design. Community engagement increases the likelihood that the approaches proposed will be not only appropriate to the epidemiological context, but also to the lifestyle and needs of the target communities.
Prior to roll out of any intervention thorough sensitization of communities should happen; giving detailed information on what is planned and why. Opportunities for community members to ask questions and get answers are important.
On-going communication activities are also important to ensure communities remain aware of the services available, the risk of malaria and the actions they can take to access services and reduce risk to themselves and their families. In areas where malaria is seasonal an increased communication drive just prior to the malaria season can be useful.
on malaria surveillance