Integrating use of point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen rapid diagnostic tests by community health workers during mass drug administration campaigns to improve uptake of praziquantel treatment among the adult population at Kome Island, North-Western

Humphrey D Mazigo, John H Amuasi, Isaac Osei and Safari M Kinung'hi

Background: The major drawback of the community-based mass drug administration (MDA) approach against schistosomiasis is that treatment is offered blindly without testing for the targeted infection. This partly contributes to the low treatment coverage. One approach to overcome this limitation is to introduce a diagnostic component in the treatment approach. This will improve drug uptake and compliance to treatment. This study is conducted to assess the feasibility and acceptability of integrating point-of-care Circulating Cathodic Antigen (POC-CCA) test to community-based directed MDA in improving treatment coverage and compliance with treatment among adults.

Methods: This is a randomized control community trial in which 30 clusters were randomly assigned to either an intervention or control arm to evaluate two interventions on treatment coverage and compliance with treatment. In each cluster, 150 adult participants were enrolled. Community Health Workers (CHW) in both arms were trained on all aspects of praziquantel (PZQ) distribution and management of mild side effects. In the intervention arm, CHWs had additional training on how to use POC-CCA to diagnose intestinal schistosomiasis. In the intervention arm, participants were tested using POC-CCA test for presence of intestinal schistosomiasis and treated based on test results, while in the control arm, participants were treated with PZQ without testing. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of participants provided with PZQ between the two arms and geographical clusters. Secondary outcomes were prevalence of S. mansoni infection based on the POC-CCA test conducted by CHWs, ability of CHWs to use the POC-CCA test accurately and safely and community acceptability of the POC-CCA test results from CHWs. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques have been used to collect data at study endpoint.

Discussion: The study will generate evidence on the importance of integrating a diagnostic component into the community directed MDA conducted by CHWs. Findings will generate discussion on the current MDA policy and practice in Tanzania.