In India, annual rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) based on diethylcarbamazine and albendazole are used to control filariasis, which is a major public-health problem. In December 2007/January 2008, a few weeks after one such MDA, a household survey was conducted in the Ernakulam district of Kerala to evaluate coverage and compliance. After one member aged >14 years from each of 599 households was interviewed, coverage of the last MDA was estimated to be 77.0% and compliance only 39.6%. Most (67.4%) of the interviewees were not aware of the term 'mass drug administration' but 20.9% of the others thought that MDA prevented the occurrence of filariasis. Most (62.3%) of those interviewed said that they obtained information about MDA from television or radio programmes and/or newspapers and most (66.3%) considered MDA to be useful (only 5.0% said that MDA were not useful, the other interviewees saying that they did not know whether MDA were useful or not). Those who had not ingested the tablets given to them in the last MDA said that they were fearful of the drugs (39.4% of the non-compliers), were too ill to take the drugs (22.5%) or had misconceptions about the aims of the MDA (12.5%). Only 2.7% of the interviewees who had ingested the distributed tablets reported adverse effects and these were mild (fever, drowsiness, swelling/oedema and/or vomiting) and only occurred within 24 h of tablet ingestion.
In a univariate analysis, individual compliance in the last MDA was found to be positively associated with perceived benefits to the individual (P<0.001), the perceived usefulness of MDA (P=0.001) and certain study wards within the panchayat (P=0.032). It therefore appears that communication exercises targeted at the areas with relatively low compliance and designed to improve perceptions of the benefits and usefulness of MDA against filariasis could be the key to a successful control programme.
S Aswathy, Beteena, K., and Leelamoni, K., “Mass drug administration against filariasis in India: perceptions and practices in a rural community in Kerala”, Annals of tropical medicine and parasitology, vol. 103, pp. 617–624, 2009.