Disease prevention in Tanzania
Children and young people are the ones who most often die of rabies in rural Africa, but they are not always easy to reach when developing ways to tackle the disease. Many leave school after primary, and many work in agriculture. If they are bitten by a rabid animal, even if they know they need vaccination to save their life, the vaccine may be too expensive or too far away.
If they do not receive the vaccine, they die. This was the motivation for a project to involve the whole community in developing a strategy for disease prevention, devised by Tiziana Lembo and Jane Coutts from the Institute of Animal Health, Biodiversity and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow.
The CARE project had an important element of increasing awareness about rabies prevention. A key element was consulting communities about removing some of the barriers to putting this awareness into practice. A tool was needed which would allow them to bring a range of stakeholders together, hear their views and help find a common solution; a ‘whole community’ plan to prevent rabies and other diseases.
They needed a way to gather ideas during community workshops in villages in southern Tanzania. These were planned as two days with the whole community and one day with primary and secondary school teachers. This went beyond the more common approach where only schools were targeted, as many of the older children had already left school or never went to school.
Using the Ketso kit to animate the discussion allowed the team to assess the community’s existing knowledge about rabies, and helped them to reinforce key messages. By bringing everyone’s ideas together, the kit allowed a whole community discussion about the best ways to approach young people in the villages. This meant the community ‘owned’ the solutions and could be better supported in taking them forward.
The CARE project was awarded the University of Glasgow’s Engagement Project of the Year 2016 and The Guardian Higher Education Network University Awards 2016 – International projects. In addition, Tiziana Lembo has been awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Patrick Neill Medal for her work.
“Ketso has allowed us to bridge the divide between high-level government officers and key stakeholders in communities… The kit makes it easy to bring together people of different backgrounds, ages and levels of education, and helps them to speak on equal terms. They are able to develop a clear plan and solutions, which are viable for their particular geographical and social context. People were so relaxed during Ketso sessions that one man in Kilosa stood up and improvised a rabies prevention song.”
– Dr. Tiziana Lembo, Senior Lecturer (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine)