Building Community Capacity in Malaria Control: the Malaria Communities Program

The Malaria Communities Program (MCP) was launched on December 14, 2006. Through 20 awards to 18 partners in 12 countries, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has supported efforts of communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to combat malaria at the local level. Excerpts from one of the MCP case studies are found below.

This case study examines different models of community outreach and engagement implemented by five MCP partners: the Christian  Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) Malawi, HealthPartners Uganda, Catholic Medical  Mission Board (CMMB) Zambia, Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Mozambique in partnership with Progresso, and Lutheran World Relief (LWR) Mali. MCHIP collected multiple forms of data from these five partners using qualitative methods, including individual interviews with key project personnel and review of key documents.

MCHIP then compared data across projects to better understand the overall contributions made by MCP. Some partners conducted surveys, and this report includes relevant quantitative data. Data are limited by a lack of standardized reporting on this topic. Future studies about the relationship between community capacity and malaria control could utilize frameworks described in relevant literature for planning and reporting results.

MCP Capacity Chart 1The major sub-theme emerging from the data was effective utilization of community volunteers as a way to build community capacity and sustain project results. Each partner’s strategy to engage and retain volunteers included these key attributes: selection of volunteers, motivation/retention of volunteers, ensuring sustainability of the volunteer program, and addressing challenges. Building community capacity can be described as the means by which communities and individuals enhance their skills, abilities, resources, and commitments to identify challenges and solutions in their communities, and nurture their unique talents and leadership. In this process, individuals and groups increase their abilities to impact the health and vitality of their communities.

MCP partners trained, empowered, and equipped volunteers with skills and tools to promote key messages about malaria prevention and treatment. MCP partnerships with National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) and community members have strengthened local ownership by facilitating community-driven processes for volunteer selection and supervision.

MCP Capacity Chart 2Trained volunteers have helped increase community demand for nets and fostered trust between health workers and community volunteers, creating a foundation for communities to control malaria. Charts 1 and 2 show positive trends in selected MCP project areas in net ownership and use, which may result from strengthened community capacity, as seen in the Zambia study.

Download and read the full case study at: http://www.mchip.net/node/2069

See also: Underwood C et al. 2013 Community capacity as means to improved health practices and an end in itself: Evidence from a multi-stage study. Intl Quarterly of Community Health Education 33(2): 105–127.

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