Mass drug administration and the sustainable control of schistosomiasis: Community health workers are vital for global elimination efforts
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Objectives Schistosomiasis control is centred on preventive chemotherapy through mass drug administration (MDA). However, endemic countries continue to struggle to attain target coverage rates and patient compliance. In the Philippines, barangay health workers (BHWs) play a vital role in the coordination of MDA, acting as advocates, implementers, and educators. The aim of this study was to determine whether BHW knowledge and attitudes towards schistosomiasis and MDA is sufficient and correlated with resident knowledge and drug compliance. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2015 among 2186 residents and 224 BHWs in the province of Northern Samar, the Philippines using a structured survey questionnaire. Results BHWs showed good familiarity on how schistosomiasis is acquired and diagnosed. Nevertheless, both BHWs and residents had poor awareness of the signs and symptoms of schistosomiasis, disease prevention, and treatment options. There was no correlation between the knowledge scores of the BHWs and the residents (r = 0.080, p = 0.722). Kruskal–Wallis analysis revealed significant differences in BHW knowledge scores between the low (3.29, 95% confidence interval 3.16–3.36), moderate (3.61, 95% confidence interval 3.49–3.69), and high (4.05, 95% confidence interval 3.77–4.13) compliance village groups (p = 0.002), with the high compliance areas having the highest mean knowledge scores. Conclusions This study highlights the importance of community health workers in obtaining the World Health Organization drug coverage rate of 75% and improving compliance with MDA in the community. Investing in the education of community health workers with appropriate disease-specific training is crucial if disease elimination is ultimately to be achieved.
International Journal of Infectious Diseases
Health and Community Services