series event

People: part of the malaria control problem, or part of the solution?

Dalia Iskander and Jo Lines exploreshow far we can get with malaria control without having people on board.

Time | 4 pm - 6 pm (There will be a Malaria Centre meeting from 4-4.30 pm followed by the seminar and then drinks from 5.15 pm)

Engaging with communities has long been recognized as an important element in tackling infectious diseases such as malaria. This seminar will explore different forms of engagement as well as past and present debates surrounding community involvement. It will ask how far we can get with malaria control without having people on board.

The first part of the seminar will present a case study of what can happen when community participation is threatened within a research project. It will report the experiences of researchers involved in the MONKEYBAR project as they carry out large-scale malaria surveys in Sabah, Malaysia. The vast majority of study participants consented to having their blood taken and to answering questionnaires but a small number did also decline. In some areas, non-participation turned to active resistance and the campaign went viral.

Protesters largely used social media to discourage others from participating in the study, warning that the survey was a guise for robbery, kidnap and murder and that blood tests were a means to steal people’s organs. Research staff have had stones thrown at them and been chased out areas of machetes. What leads to such refusals to participate and what are the implications? “Community participation in vector control” is the theme of the second part of the seminar. Ever since the discovery of the role of mosquitoes in disease transmission, there has been debate about the organisation of “vector control”.

Our main methods of vector control – anti-larval measures, IRS and ITNs – require very different kinds and degrees of participation. We will ask who does what, who benefits, and who “ought to participate” for these and other interventions, including GM mosquitoes. Over the last century, there have been some massive swings in the prominence and role of vector control in public health, and these changes have been accompanied by major shifts in the attitude of public health authorities to community participation in vector control.

These points will be illustrated with practical examples, and taking in ideas about external benefits and public goods, the relationship between coverage and effectiveness, quick wins versus sustainability and “putting the public back in public health”.


All welcome