Schistosomiasis is a parasitic neglected tropical disease that ranks second only to malaria in terms of human suffering in the tropics and subtropics. Biomedical disease control interventions need to be complemented with effective prevention and health education strategies, that address the social and environmental determinants of disease. Malaria Consortium conducted an implementation research study between May 2014 and February 2016, in four districts of Nampula province, Mozambique, to test a Community Dialogue (CD) intervention to enhance schistosomiasis prevention and control. The study aimed to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of using CD to improve communities’ level of knowledge, attitudes and practices, and engagement in wider schistosomiasis prevention and control efforts.
The feasibility and acceptability of the CD intervention was evaluated using qualitative and process evaluation data collected throughout the development and implementation phases. Qualitative data sets included key informant interviews (N = 4) with health system personnel, focus group discussions (N = 22) with CD facilitators and participants, field observation visits (N = 11), training reports (N = 7), feedback meeting reports (N = 5), CD monitoring sheets (N = 1,458) and CD planning sheets (N = 152).
The CD intervention was found highly acceptable and feasible, particularly well-suited to resource-poor settings. Non-specialist community volunteers were able to deliver participatory CDs which resulted in increased knowledge among participants and triggered individual and communal actions for improved disease prevention and control. The visual flipchart was a key aid for learning; the use of participatory communication techniques allowed the correction of misconceptions and positioned correct prevention and control practices as the community recommendations, through consensus building.
The CD approach should be embedded within neglected tropical disease control programmes and the health system to create long-lasting synergies between the community and health system for increased effectiveness. However, for behavioural change to be feasible, community engagement strategies need to be supported by improved access to treatment services, safer water and sanitation.
Published in PLOS ONE
Country: MozambiqueKeywords: Capacity development | Research | Child and maternal health | Health system strengthening | Use of evidence | NTDs | Case management | Diagnosis | SDG3
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