- by Alison

Community health projects in line for dengue funding

Image of hand reaching out, representing the community health projects funding offer from Break Dengue.

€10,000 in funding for projects and ideas that integrate vaccine into anti-dengue strategy

Community health projects can help societies to embrace new tools in a way that ensures buy-in from local people.

That is why we have launched the €10,000 Break Dengue Community Action Prize to support projects that make the most of public health interventions. This community-centric approach will back a project or initiative that can integrate vaccination into the anti-dengue arsenal.

We are looking for pilot initiatives or simply ideas to design and test new approaches to integrating a dengue vaccine as part of a holistic plan to combat dengue. These ideas or initiatives should ideally identify, understand and address community-level drivers and barriers for dengue vaccine integration, its sustained uptake, and/or compliance.

Grassroots campaigns

Community-driven initiatives are more likely to be successful because they answer an unmet need and are presented in a way that resonates with the target audience. They can create awareness of health challenges – and solutions – by developing publicity campaigns designed by communities.

The role of community health projects was highlighted at ASEAN Dengue Day 2016 and the Aid and International Development Forum (AIDF) in Bangkok earlier this year.

“Dengue prevention and control is a shared responsibility which needs collective action from all stakeholders to work together and enhance cooperation as one community,” said the Bangkok Call for Action released on the occasion of the 6th ASEAN Dengue Day, held under the theme, ‘Community Empowerment: A Sustainable Success to Fight Dengue’.

For this approach to be effective, identifying the key actors in the communities is essential. “This is very context specific. Some may believe more in religious figures. For other, the village chief is more acceptable to them,” says Muhammad Shafique, Regional Behaviour Change Communication Specialist at the Malaria Consortium.

Image of the Aedes moqsuito. Public health organizations are uniting to stop the disease it spreads.

Community health projects could improve dengue vaccine uptake

Nevertheless, research shows that the most trusted figures are community healthcare workers (CHW). In India, for instance, CHW help to strengthen the immunization programs and reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh.

Examples from the field

Communities have been mobilized to:

Modern approaches to community health include ‘positive deviance’ – highlighting examples of healthy behavior from within communities.

Similarly, community role models can help to reassure a local population that taking action to stay healthy is in keeping with their core identity. For example, this Australian project sought to reassure people that vaccination is compatible with their strong communitarian values.

It saw real parents step up to tell their friends and neighbors that their children are vaccinated – helping to normalize the behavior in an area where alternative health practices were common.

So whether it is through education, role modeling or health service delivery, community projects can play a vital role in the fight against dengue.