January - March 2015
Prior to launching research studies, communities who will be involved must understand and be aware of all activites that will be taking place. Sensitisation meetings are an opportunity to present to all community members
(1) the research aims
(2) the interventions under evaluation
(3) the evaluation methodolgy
(4) to answer any questions.
Hierarchical structures must be utilised to gain access to and mobilise the communities and to ultimately engage them in the research to be carried out. Working with chiefs, assistant chiefs and village chairpersons over the past two months, the TUMIKIA team planned, organised and conducted 583 sensitisation meetings in 1083 villages in Kwale, with over 100 field officers travelling to the furthest corners of Kwale County daily.
The brief update from the TUMIKIA team below summarises the steps involved in such a huge undertaking.
Establishing clusters for the TUMIKIA Project
During January we were in in extensive communication with the chiefs, assistant chiefs, public health officers (PHO) and community health extensions workers (CHEW) to establish a database of all villages and sub-villages in Kwale county, as well as collect information on the Ministry of Health-operated community units present in Kwale. We compiled a list of all the villages and primary schools in each sublocation and in each community unit.
The TUMIKIA Project will use clusters based on the community strategy (community unit [CU] system). A CU is an area comprising approximately 1,000 households overseen by a CHEW and served by between 10 and 50 community health volunteers (CHV). These clusters will be randomised into one of the three study (deworming strategy) groups. A CU is an area comprising approximately 1,000 households. Thus, in areas where formal CUs exist we will use these. In regions not currently covered by CUs we have worked with the PHOs and CHEWs to establish new clusters equivalent to CUs.
Overall the TUMIKIA Project will be working in 120 clusters, or approximately 120,000 households.
Chief, Assistant chief, PHO and CHEW meetings
On the 5th February we travelled to the Vision Empire Hall in Kinango and met with the chiefs, assistant chiefs, PHOs and CHEWs from Kinango subcounty. We had an attendance of 58, and held a lively meeting from 9 until 12 in which we presented the overall aim and objectives of the TUMIKIA Project and the evaluation and intervention activities that would be conducted in the county and received questions and feedback. On the 6th February we held a meeting in Diani Forest Lodge, Ukunda, to which we invited all the chiefs, assistant chiefs, PHOs and CHEWs from Matuga, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga sub-counties. We had an attendance of 107 with only a very few sublocations/CUs not represented. Again all meeting attendess participated enthusiastically in the meeting where the project aims and activities were presented, and we were given permission to contact the village chairmen to arrange the community-level sensitisation meetings.
Village sensitisation meetings
Following a two-day training workshop on community sensitisation with the 101 fieldworkers, the teams were ready to head out into the communities to disseminate the information to all community members. Between the 12th and 27th February we conducted 583 community sensitisation meetings across the 1083 villages in Kwale county, covering regions from Vanga to Silaloni and everywhere in between! A total of 50 pairs of field officers conducted one meeting each per day.
Chiefs and assistant chiefs were contacted in advance, to organise the meeting date and location, then the village chairpersons were contacted to mobilise the community. The number of villages grouped for each meeting ranged from one to seventeen, but the majority were grouped in pairs. Where possible the TUMIKIA meetings were coordinated alongside pre-arranged community meetings so as to maximise attendance. Meeting attendance varied from tens to several hundred. In the cases where attendance was poor due to a burial or other event, we made every effort to re-arrange the meeting.
Having completed the sensitisation activities, we are now focussed on the next stage: the baseline parasitological and socio-demographic surveys in over 27,000 individuals, across the 120 clusters. These surveys will be conducted between mid-March and early May 2015.
More photos of sensitisation meetings: