This article summarises the findings of three separate research papers by Adhikari et al (2017; 2017; 2018), which explore the role of community engagement for participation in mass antimalarial administration during Targeted Malaria Elimination (TME) projects in Lao PDR (Laos).

Image: A mass meeting in Tha Thay, Laos, explaining TME procedures using a poster (Adhikari et al. 2018)

After the completion of the TME project, a number of studies (both quantitative and qualitative) revealed high levels of participation in mass antimalarial administration. They found a number of key variables that influenced individuals’ participation:

  • Familiarity with the rationale for blood testing and knowing that malaria can be diagnosed through blood tests
  • Familiarity with rationale for MDA and asymptomatic malaria
  • Participation of all household members
  • Provision of free primary healthcare
  • Liking all aspects of TME (e.g. those who disliked blood tests, taking medicine etc. were less likely to complete TME project)
  • The perception that TME was worthwhile

The study concluded that, amongst the above factors, participation in TME was significantly associated with participation in community engagement activities. These included health education activities through theatre, posters, village meetings, and house-to-house visits.

Image: Poster describing the contextualised picture of malaria and the elimination campaign (Adhikari et al. 2017)

Based on these experiences, five key elements of effective community engagement for MDA were identified:

  1. Stakeholder and authority engagement (national, regional/district, and local level)
  2. Local human resources (e.g. recruitment of local volunteers who are integral to the design and implementation of activity in study villages)
  3. Formative research to gain insight into local social and economic contexts
  4. Responsiveness so that the approach responds to the needs of the community and their responses to various study components
  5. Sharing control and leadership with the community (e.g. decisions on the organisation of TME activities)

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