Understanding asymptomatic carriers, treatment adherence and intervention strategies for malaria elimination in The Gambia
Global health interventions have increasingly targeted infectious diseases of poverty - including malaria - for elimination. In targeted rural communities, biomedical and public health practitioners aim to intervene in and render visible health problems previously unknown to said communities.
Context must remain central to global health interventions to prevent the hierarchical prioritisation of biomedical scientific practices, or indeed political and economic decisions including governance practices. These conflicting empirical approaches can lead to an oversimplification of the ‘human factor’ in medical research which is crucial for the appropriate delivery of interventions that best address the needs of the target community. This seminar focusses on asymptomatic malaria carriage and aims to bring attention to the why and how of health problems, particularly when that health problem can be considered a ‘non-problem’.
Based on a 2-year period of ethnographic fieldwork with a mixed methods approach, this transdisciplinary project in rural Gambia investigated:
- Perceptions of asymptomatic disease carriage and malaria (as classified locally);
- actions taken by individuals in the community to protect themselves from and/or minimise their risk of malaria;
- the extent to which these practices are taken to protect not only themselves but others as an expression of social vulnerability and responsibility.
This further contributes towards an improved understanding of actively involving local communities in infectious disease elimination in The Gambia.
- Fatou Jaiteh, Medical Research Council Unit ,The Gambia. Fatou is a doctoral candidate at the Medical Research Council at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, The Gambia and the Unit of Unit of Socio-Ecological Health Research, Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Health, Antwerp. Her work applies medical anthropological insights including community-based participatory approaches to understand infectious disease transmission dynamics particularly for malaria elimination in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her doctoral research explored in-depth understandings on asymptomatic malaria carriage and its treatment placed within the local populations wider concerns and priorities in the Gambia. Currently, she is involved in a project which aims to contribute social science insights for a better understanding of the spread of new invasive malaria vector (An.Stephensi) in the Horn of Africa including the development of targeted multi-sectoral vector control strategies.