“Using the same hand”: The complex local perceptions of integrated one health based interventions in East Africa
Background Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as soil transmitted helminths (STH) and human rabies represent a significant burden to health in East Africa. Control and elimination remains extremely challenging, particularly in remote communities. Novel approaches, such as One Health based integrated interventions, are gaining prominence, yet there is more to be learned about the ways in which social determinants affect such programmes.
Methodology In 2015 a mixed method qualitative study was conducted in northern Tanzania to determine community perceptions towards integrated delivery of two distinct healthcare interventions: treatment of children for STH and dog vaccination for rabies. In order to assess the effectiveness of the integrated approach, villages were randomly allocated to one of three intervention arms: i) Arm A received integrated mass drug administration (MDA) for STH and mass dog rabies vaccination (MDRV); ii) Arm B received MDA only; iii) Arm C received MDRV only.
Principle findings Integrated interventions were looked upon favourably by communities with respondents in all arms stating that they were more likely to either get their dogs vaccinated if child deworming was delivered at the same time and vice versa. Participants appreciated integrated interventions, due to time and cost savings and increased access to essential health care. Analysis of qualitative data allowed deeper exploration of responses, revealing why people appreciated these benefits as well as constraints and barriers to participation in integrated programmes.
Conclusions/significance An interdisciplinary One Health approach that incorporates qualitative social science can provide key insights into complex local perceptions for integrated health service delivery for STH and human rabies. This includes providing insights into how interventions can be improved while acknowledging and addressing critical issues around awareness, participation and underlying health disparities in remote pastoralist communities.