Acceptability and feasibility of malaria prophylaxis for forest goers: findings from a qualitative study in Cambodia
Jongdeepaisal M., Ean M., Heng C., Buntau T., Tripura R., Callery JJ., Peto TJ., Conradis-Jansen F., von Seidlein L., Khonputsa P., Pongsoipetch K., Soviet U., Sovannaroth S., Pell C., Maude RJ.
Abstract Background In the Greater Mekong Subregion, adults are at highest risk for malaria, particularly those who visit forests. The absence of effective vector control strategies and limited periods of exposure during forest visits suggest that chemoprophylaxis could be an appropriate strategy to protect forest goers against malaria. Methods Alongside a clinical trial of anti-malarial chemoprophylaxis in northern Cambodia, qualitative research was conducted, including in-depth interviews and observation, to explore the acceptability of malaria prophylaxis for forest goers, the implementation opportunities, and challenges of this strategy. Results Prophylaxis with artemether–lumefantrine for forest goers was found to be acceptable under trial conditions. Three factors played a major role: the community’s awareness and perception of the effectiveness of prophylaxis, their trust in the provider, and malaria as a local health concern. The findings highlight how uptake and adherence to prophylaxis are influenced by the perceived balance between benefits and burden of anti-malarials which are modulated by the seasonality of forest visits and its influence on malaria risk. Conclusions The implementation of anti-malarial prophylaxis needs to consider how the preventive medication can be incorporated into existing vector-control measures, malaria testing and treatment services. The next step in the roll out of anti-malarial prophylaxis for forest visitors will require support from local health workers.