Remaining Plasmodium falciparum cases in Cambodia are concentrated in forested border areas and in remote populations that are hard to reach through passive case detection. A key approach to reach these populations is active case detection by mobile malaria workers (MMWs). However, this is operationally challenging because of changing movement patterns of the target population moving into less accessible areas. From January 2018 to December 2020, a tailored package of active case detection approaches was implemented in forested border areas of three provinces in northeastern Cambodia to reach remote populations and support the elimination of falciparum malaria.
Key elements of this project were to tailor approaches to local populations, use responsive monitoring systems, maintain operational fexibility, build strong relationships with local communities, and implement close supervision practices. MMWs were recruited from local communities. Proactive case detection approaches included mobile malaria posts positioned at frequented locations around and within forests, and locally informed outreach activities targeting more remote locations. Reactive case detection was conducted among co-travellers of confrmed cases. Testing for malaria was conducted independent of fever symptoms. Routine monitoring of programmatic data informed tactical adaptations, while supervision exercises ensured service quality.
Despite operational challenges, service delivery sites were able to maintain consistently high testing rates throughout the implementation period, with each of 45 sites testing a monthly average of 64 (SD 6) people in 2020. In 2020, project MMWs detected only 32 P. falciparum cases. Over the project period, the P. falciparum/P. vivax ratio steadily inversed. Including data from neighbouring health centres and village malaria workers, 45 percent (80,988/180,732) of all people tested and 39 percent (1280/3243) of P. falciparum cases detected in the area can be attributed to project MMWs. Remaining challenges of the last elimination phase include maintaining intensifed elimination eforts, addressing the issue of detecting low parasitaemia cases and shifting focus to P. vivax malaria.
Reaching remote populations through active case detection should remain a key strategy to eliminate P. falciparum malaria. This case study presented a successful approach combining tailored proactive and reactive strategies that could be transferred to similar settings in other areas of the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Published in Malaria Journal
Country: CambodiaKeywords: Capacity building | Community delivery | M&E and surveillance | Health system strengthening | Malaria | Diagnosis | Elimination | Preventive treatments | Resistance management | Vector control | SDG3
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