The role of community participation for sustainable integrated neglected tropical diseases and water, sanitation and hygiene intervention programs: A pilot project in Tanzania.
Strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Tanzania including those attributed to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) problems have been largely top-down in nature. They have focused on strengthening the governance of NTD-WASH programs by integrating different vertical disease programs and improving the efficiency of report-generation. In this paper, we argue for community participation as an effective strategy for developing sustainable village health governance. We present the results of a pilot undertaken between November 2015 and April 2016 in which we adopted a mixed methods case study approach to implement an Enhanced Development Governance (EDG) model using existing village governance structures. Our results show that the EDG model was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the prevalence of schistosomiasis and diarrhoea, and has led to an increase in awareness of WASH interventions for sustaining gains in NTD control. We identify five key social processes enacted by the EDG model that have led to improved health benefits related to frequency of meetings and attendance, promotion of health and sanitation awareness, income-generating activities, self-organising capabilities, and interaction between village bodies. These findings hold important implications for conceptualising the role of community participation in sustaining NTD-WASH intervention programs and for sensitising institutional and policy reform.