In French Guiana, gold miners working illegally represents a major reservoir of malaria. This mobile population, mainly of Brazilian descent, enters the French Guianese forest from neighbouring countries, Suriname and Brazil. A complex and innovative intervention was piloted as a cooperation with the three involved countries involved to control malaria in this specific population. The principle was that health workers called “facilitators” provide the participants with a self-diagnosis and self-treatment kit along with adequate training and material to rapidly manage an episode of malaria symptoms on their own, when they find themselves isolated from health care services.
This paper describes the design, development, content of the intervention and players’ organization of this multi-country project, the opportunities and constraints encountered, and the lessons learnt at this stage.
The choice not to implement the usual “Test and Treat” approach within the community is mainly driven by regulatory reasons. The content of medical messages tends to balance the tension between thoroughness, accuracy and efficacy. The wide range of tools developed through a participatory approach was intended to cope with the challenges of the literacy level of the target population. Despite the difficulties encountered due to language, regulation differences and distance between partners, cooperation was fruitful, due to the complementary of stakeholders, their involvement at all important stages and regular face-to-face meetings.
Discussion and conclusion
This experience shows the feasibility of an ambitious project of action-research in a border malaria context, involving several countries and with a mobile and undocumented population. It reveals some factors of success which may be transferable in analogous settings.