Whose elimination? Frontline workers' perspectives on the elimination of the Human African Trypanosomiasis and its anticipated consequences

Jean-Benoît Falisse, Erick Mwamba-Miaka, Alain Mpanya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While academic literature has paid careful attention to the technological efforts-drugs, tests, and tools for vector control-deployed to eliminate Gambiense Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), the human resources and health systems dimensions of elimination are less documented. This paper analyses the perspectives and experiences of frontline nurses, technicians, and coordinators who work for the HAT programme in the former province of Bandundu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the epidemic's very heart. The research is based on 21 semi-structured interviews conducted with frontline workers in February 2018. The results highlight distinctive HAT careers as well as social elevation through specialised work. Frontline workers are concerned about changes in active screening strategies and the continued existence of the vector, which lead them to question the possibility of imminent elimination. Managers seem to anticipate a post-HAT situation and prepare for the employment of their staff; most workers see their future relatively confidently, as re-allocated to non-vertical units. The findings suggest concrete pathways for improving the effectiveness of elimination efforts: improving active screening through renewed engagements with local leaders, conceptualising horizontal integration in terms of human resources mobility, and investing more in detection and treatment activities (besides innovation).
Original languageEnglish
JournalTropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT)
  • disease elimination
  • disease eradication
  • frontline workers
  • DR Congo
  • mobile screening
  • qualitative methods

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