Published: March 10, 2022
Oo MC, Phongluxa K, Oo WH, Kounnavong S, Xayyavong S, Louangphaxay C, Htike W, Cutts JC, Thu KM, Hkawng GN, Fowkes FJI. Perspectives of health and community stakeholders on community-delivered models of malaria elimination in Lao People’s Democratic Republic: A qualitative study. PLoS One. 2022 Mar 10;17(3):e0264399. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264399. PMID: 35271594; PMCID: PMC8912149.
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), village health volunteers play an important role in providing health services including those to reduce the burden of malaria. Over the last two decades, the volunteer network has expanded to bring malaria services closer to communities and contributed to the reduction of malaria cases. However, as malaria test positivity rates decreased, many volunteers have lost motivation to continue providing routine malaria services, and other services they provide may not reflect growing healthcare demands for common diseases in the community. This study explored the perspectives, knowledge and inputs of key health stakeholders and community members in southern Lao PDR on community-delivered models in order to refine the volunteer model in the context of Lao PDR’s primary health care sector and malaria elimination goals. Semi-structured interviews with multi-level health stakeholders, participatory workshops with community leaders, and focus group discussions with community members and current village health volunteers were conducted. Deductive followed by inductive thematic analysis was used to explore and categorise stakeholders’ perspectives on community-delivered models for malaria elimination. Both stakeholders and community members agreed that village health volunteers are essential providers of malaria services in rural communities. Apart from malaria, community members identified dengue, diarrhoea, influenza, skin infections and tuberculosis as priorities (in descending order of importance) and requested community-based primary health care for these diseases. Stakeholders and community members suggested integrating prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services for the five priority diseases into the current malaria volunteer model. A divergence was identified between community members’ expectations of health services and the services currently provided by village health volunteers. Stakeholders proposed an integrated model of healthcare to meet the needs of the community and help to maintain volunteers’ motivation and the long-term sustainability of the role. An evidence-based, integrated community-delivered model of healthcare should be developed to balance the needs of both community members and stakeholders, with consideration of available resources and current health policies in Lao PDR.