Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) is a safe and effective intervention for preventing malaria in children under five years of age. Lead mothers are community health volunteers that help caregivers comply with monthly administration of anti-malarial medicines during SMC campaigns. The lead mother approach is used in several SMC implementing states across Nigeria, but there is lack of evidence about their roles and how effective they are. This study sought to better understand the current role of lead mothers, identify areas for improvement and ways to optimise the role of lead mothers during SMC campaigns.
This paper reports the formative phase of a three-phased intervention development study. The formative phase involved semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from national, state, local government and community levels. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes, forming the basis of a subsequent co-design workshop with stakeholders routinely involved in SMC campaigns.
The findings of the formative phase converged around four overarching themes: skills and attributes required of lead mothers; factors that affect lead mother’s roles; how lead mothers interact with Community Health Influencers Promoters Services (CHIPS) agents and re-imagining the role of lead mothers during SMC campaigns.
This formative work in Kano state indicates that, through their strong connection to communities and unique relationship with caregivers, lead mothers can and do influence caregivers to adopt healthy behaviours during SMC campaigns. However, there is room for improvement in how they are recruited, trained and supervised. There is need to improve lead mothers’ knowledge and skills through adequate training and supporting materials, so they can deliver targeted health messages to caregivers. Sustainability of the lead mother approach is at risk if policymakers do not find a way of transitioning their role into the existing community health worker infrastructure, for example by using CHIPs agents, and ensuring less reliance on external donor support.
Published in Malaria Journal
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