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Barriers to the National Onchocerciasis Control Programme at operational level in Cameroon: a qualitative assessment of stakeholders’ views

Dissak-Delon, Fanny Nadia, Kamga, Guy-Roger, Humblet, Perrine Claire, Robert, Annie, Souopgui, Jacob, Kamgno, Joseph, Ghogomu, Stephen Mbigha, Godin, Isabelle
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 246
disease control programs, focus groups, humans, interviews, ivermectin, nurses, onchocerciasis, planning, stakeholders, surveys, therapeutics, Cameroon
BACKGROUND: The global burden of onchocerciasis is the heaviest in sub-Saharan Africa. Studies have shown the importance of the role of Community-Directed Distributors (CDDs) and nurses in onchocerciasis control, but little is known about their experience in implementing onchocerciasis control programmes. Our aim was to document the barriers that CDDs and local health administrators face in implementing onchocerciasis control activities. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative survey consisting of 16 in-depth interviews and 8 focus group discussions (FGDs) across three health districts of Cameroon. We interviewed a total of 9 local health officials at the district and Health Area levels, and 7 CDDs. Eight FGDs were conducted with CDDs and Health Committee members. RESULTS: The major barriers to the implementation of Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin that we identified were linked and interrelated. Examples of these barriers included: contextual factors (geographical and cultural background), top-to-bottom planning, insufficient human and material resources, and lack of transparency in the management of the programme’s funds. CONCLUSIONS: The CDTI at operational level still faces many obstacles which negatively affect therapeutic coverages. This can lead to the non-adhesion of the communities to the programme, consequently jeopardizing the sustainability of the onchocerciasis elimination programme. We recommend that the national programme planners put in place a transparent management and planning system for onchocerciasis elimination activities, with better communication with local programme stakeholders.