Dr. Deogratias Damas discusses the successful use of community drug distributors in IMA's Tanzania programs at the 2013 APHA Annual Conference.

Dr. Deogratias Damas discusses the successful use of community drug distributors in IMA’s Tanzania programs at the 2013 APHA Annual Conference.

IMA World Health/ Emily Esworthy

On Sunday, November 3, Senior Program Manager Dr. Deogratias Damas from IMA World Health Tanzania had the honor of facilitating a poster session at the 2013 APHA Annual Conference in Boston.

His poster was titled, “Empowering Communities to Deliver Public Health Interventions: Case Study of Community Drug Distributors (CDDs) in Tanzania.”

In Tanzania IMA, with the support from the USAID/RTI funded Envision program, has helped to train and manage more than 41,000 volunteer Community Drug Distributors (CDDs) who conduct the important annual mass drug administration campaigns at schools and community posts that help prevent and treat five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) common in Tanzania. The Tanzania NTD Control Program (TZNTDCP), which is led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, aims for every eligible person to take the drugs on an annual basis to control and eliminate these costly and debilitating diseases.

CDDs are volunteers selected by their communities to sensitize and educate their own community about MDAs and deliver the treatments door-to-door to all eligible community members in their designated areas. Each CDD receives the appropriate training, follow-up, tools and supervision from local health workers.

Through his poster, Dr. Damas shared the key results of empowering these local community members:

  • The use of local CDDs has enabled the program to reach remote villagesand populations which would otherwise be difficult to treat
  • Community involvement  in solving their own health problems has greatly facilitated community ownership of the program
  • Over 14 million doses of NTD preventing medication were distributed  between October 2011 and September 2012  in 13 regions of the country
  • Over 41,000 CDDs volunteered to serve their own communities between October 2011 and September 2012. All these completed the prescribed CDDs training.

Through this project, Dr. Damas concluded that public health interventions targeting hard-to-reach communities should consider engaging community members at all stages of program planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The Tanzania NTD Control Program  provides a good example of how a large-scale program with complicated logistics can target the prevention of multiple diseases successfully through the combined effort of government, donors, partners, and local communities.

Congratulations to Dr. Damas for the opportunity of sharing this program’s success and lessons learned at APHA!