Community members' perceptions of mass drug administration for control of lymphatic filariasis in rural rural and urban Tanzania

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Lymphatic filariasis is one of several neglected tropical diseases with severely disabling and stigmatizing manifestations that are referred to as 'neglected diseases of poverty'. It is a mosquito-borne disease found endemically and exclusively in low-income contexts where, concomitantly, general public health care is often deeply troubled and fails to meet the basic health needs of impoverished populations. This presents particular challenges for the implementation of mass drug administration (MDA), which currently is the principal means of control and eventual elimination. Several MDA programmes face the dilemma that they are unable to attain and maintain the required drug coverage across target groups. In recognition of this, a qualitative study was conducted in the Morogoro and Lindi regions of Tanzania to gain an understanding of community experiences with, and perceptions of, the MDA campaign implemented in 2011 by the National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Programme. The study revealed a wide variation of perceptions and experiences regarding the aim, rationale and justification of MDA. There were positive sentiments about the usefulness of the drugs, but many study participants were sceptical about the manner in which MDA is implemented. People were particularly disappointed with the limited attempts by implementers to share information and mobilize residents. In addition, negative sentiments towards MDA for lymphatic filariasis reflected a general feeling of desertion and marginalization by the health care system and political authorities. However, the results suggest that if the communities are brought on board with genuine respect for their integrity and informed self-determination, there is scope for major improvements in community support for MDA-based control activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)94-112
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

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