Photo source: USAID
The Tanzania Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Control Program is implemented with support from various donors, including USAID, which provides support to nine regions, covering 54 districts. Ms. Neema Kasanga has been working as a nurse assistant with the NTD Control Program at a government dispensary in Mtambo village in the district of Nsimbo since 2010.
Apart from her ordinary full-time duties as a nurse, she is committed to working with the NTD program as a front-line health worker (FLHW). Her duties with the NTD program include training and supervising community drug distributors (CDDs) and teachers, collecting and distributing NTD treatment drugs and materials, and conducting quality control before, during, and after mass treatments. She collects household registers and treatment data and stores the registers until the next round of treatment. She also serves as a liaison between the community and the district level.
When asked why she stays committed to the program, she replied, “In some areas at the beginning of the NTD program, people were so afraid of taking the drugs that they used to shut their doors upon seeing the CDD approach their households. There was a myth that the drugs killed men’s sexual desire and potency. After educating them on the facts, this has stopped; and now, everyone understands the purpose of the treatment drugs.”
People like Neema, who maintain a strong commitment to their community despite many competing work priorities, have been essential to the effectiveness of the national NTD Control Program.