"We were afraid of the lion that has roared next to us"; Community response to reactive focal mass drug administration for malaria in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

Kimberly A. Baltzell, Alysse Maglior, Khaya Bangu, Nontokozo Mngadi, Lisa M. Prach, Brooke Whittemore, Nyasatu Ntshalintshali, Manik Saini, Nomcebo Dlamini, Simon Kunene, Michelle S. Hsiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Reactive focal mass drug administration (rfMDA), or presumptive treatment without malaria testing of household members and neighbours of a passively identified malaria case, is currently being explored as a possible malaria elimination strategy in low transmission settings. One of the primary factors determining the effectiveness of rfMDA on reducing or interrupting transmission is achieving high coverage of the target population with drug administration. This study aims to explore the acceptability of rfMDA and identify facilitators and barriers to its potential implementation, as well as the community's general knowledge, attitudes and beliefs with regard to malaria elimination. Methods: A qualitative study was performed using focus group discussions (FGDs) among villagers that received rfMDA through the National Malaria Control Programme in the low transmission setting of Eswatini as part of a 2-year clinical trial. FGDs were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated into English. All transcripts were managed in Dedoose and underwent qualitative content analysis. Results: The majority of participants perceived their community to be at high risk of malaria. Witnessing others in their community suffer from malaria, proximity to Mozambique, various ecological factors, and the presence of mosquitoes contributed to this perception. The greatest motivator of participation in rfMDA was witnessing someone else suffer from malaria, since most participants had not personally experienced malaria themselves. Participants valued the education on rfMDA and on malaria in general, particularly when communicated by nurses and other health workers from the Ministry of Health. Participants were overwhelmingly motivated to participate in rfMDA in order to obtain protection from malaria. Most participants did not understand the concept of sub-clinical infection and, therefore, did not perceive the anti-malarial medication given in rfMDA to be a treatment medication. Conclusions: Perceived risk for malaria was a major driver of acceptability; therefore, future intervention campaigns could aim to better quantify risk to inform interventions and encourage uptake. There were misunderstandings about the asymptomatic reservoir of parasites in humans. Given that this phenomenon is the rationale for rfMDA, this misunderstanding could threaten the uptake of the intervention if it persists in the community. Using local authorities to deliver messaging, additional education on this concept with re-inforcement that risk of malaria is ongoing, even in the absence of frequent cases, may help to maximize and maintain acceptability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number238
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • Community acceptance
  • Eswatini
  • Malaria elimination
  • Malaria mass drug administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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