Mali women

Community Health Center personnel from Ségou gather for the launch of MDA. Source: HKI

In early 2008, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) NTD Control Program, Mali scaled up integrated treatment nationwide for five common and debilitating NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, trachoma, onchocerciasis, and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (whipworm, hookworm, and roundworm). Mali took a novel approach to the scale-up.

First, to introduce the integrated NTD mass drug administration (MDA) campaign, Mali held numerous community events, many of which were presided over by high-level regional government representatives. The events received widespread media coverage in print, radio, and television and were extremely well attended.

Local authorities, chiefs of medical services, community and religious leaders, and heads of women’s and youth associations also participated. Of great importance was that these individuals went on stage and publicly ingested NTD treatments to demonstrate the drugs’ safety and to build community confidence.

Mali immunization

Medical personnel administer tetracycline eye ointment to a child to prevent trachoma during the launch of MDA activities in Ségou. Source: HKI

Second, to increase community support of the campaign, community distributors in several regions developed a community mobilization plan consisting of a communal fund that receives contributions from every village’s drug distribution financial commitment. The communal nature of the fund allows for village members to decide how to best invest their funds.

As a result of the successful launch and the training of more than 20,000 community drug distributors, MDA was met with strong community support. More than 18 million NTD treatments were provided to 9 million people, including nearly 4.9 million treatments for lymphatic filariasis, 2.3 million treatments for schistosomiasis, 4.6 million treatments for trachoma, and 1.8 million treatments for onchocerciasis.