Sara E. Canavati de la Torre and colleagues conducted a study of Community health workers who focus on malaria. They are sharing their results with us below.
Village/ Mobile Malaria Workers (VMWs/MMWs) are a critical component in Cambodia’s national strategy to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality. Since 2004, VMWs have been providing free malaria diagnosis and treatment using Rapid Diagnostic Tests and Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies in hard-to-reach villages (>5km from closest health facility).
VMWs play a key role in control and prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria as well as in delivering behavioral change communication (BCC) interventions to this target population. Out photos shows a village malaria worker at a health center registering number of patients diagnosed and treated during a month.
Overall the study aimed to evaluate the implementation of these activities performed by VMW/MMWs, a quantitative and qualitative assessment was conducted in 5 provinces of western Cambodia in order to:
- understand job satisfaction of VMWs and MMWs vis-a-vis their roles and responsibilities;
- assess their performance according to their job descriptions;
- gain insights into the challenges faced in delivery of diagnosis, treatment and health education activities to their communities.
A total of 196 VMWs/MMWs were surveyed in October 2011 using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data helped to gain a deeper understanding of the success factors of this intervention and the challenges faced in implementation. The Map of Provinces shows ODs and HCs visited by the field team in zones 1 and 2 of the containment project.
The Figure shows that overall, levels of VMW performance were in line with the expected performance (80%) and some were higher than expected. However, some performance gaps were identified in the areas of knowledge of malaria symptoms, treatment regimens, and key messages. In particular, there were low levels of practice of the recommended direct observed therapies (DOTs) approach for malaria treatment (especially for the second and third doses), reportedly caused by stock-outs, distance and transportation.
The national malaria program should aim to focus on improving knowledge of VMWs in order to address misconceptions and barriers to effective implementation of DOTs at community-levels. In addition to the findings, the tools developed, will potentially help the national program to come up with better indicators in the near future.
 Sara E. Canavati de la Torre1,2,8 Po Ly2, Chea Nguon3, Arantxa Roca-Feltrer4,9, David Sintasath5, Maxine Whittaker6, Pratap Singhasivanon7 – 1Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University/ Malaria Consortium Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 2The National Centre of Parasitology and Malaria Control, Phnom Penh,, Cambodia; 3The National Centre of Parasitology and Malaria Control, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 4Malaria Consortium Cambodia, Cambodia; 5Malaria Consortium Asia Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand; 6 Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia; 7Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand; 8Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand; 9London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, UK