Community co-designed schistosomiasis control interventions for school aged children in Zanzibar

18 Jul 2016
Person B, Knopp S, Ali SM, A’kadir FM, Khamis AN, Ali JN, Lymo JH, Mohammed KA, Rollinson D

Top-down biomedical interventions to control schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa have had limited success, primarily because they fail to engage with the social, political, economic and ecological contexts in which they are delivered. Despite the call to foster community engagement and to adapt interventions to local circumstances, programmes have rarely embraced such an approach. This article outlines a community co-designed process, based upon Human-Centered Design, to demonstrate how this approach works in practice. It is based on initial work undertaken by social science researchers, public health practitioners and community members from the Zanzibar Islands, Tanzania, between November 2011 and December 2013. During the process, 32 community members participated in a qualitative and quantitative data-driven workshop where they interpreted data on local infections from S. haematobium and co-designed interventions with the assistance of a facilitator trained in the social sciences. These interventions included the implementation of novel school-based education and training, the identification of relevant safe play activities and events at local schools, the installation of community-designed urinals for boys and girls and the installation of community-designed laundry-washing platforms to reduce exposure to cercariae-contaminated fresh water. It is suggested that the a community co-designed process, drawing from Human-Centered Design principles and techniques, enables the development of more sustainable and effective interventions for the control of schistosomiasis.