BACKGROUND: Malaria volunteers have contributed significantly to malaria control achieving a reduction of annual parasite incidence to pre-elimination levels in several townships across Myanmar. However, the volunteers' role is changing as Myanmar transitions from a malaria control to elimination programme and towards the goal of universal health coverage. The aim of the study is to explore the perspectives of community leaders, members and malaria volunteers in South-East Myanmar on community-delivered models to inform an optimal design that targets malaria elimination in the context of primary health care in Myanmar. METHODS: Qualitative methods including focus group discussions (FGDs) with community members and current or ex-malaria volunteers, and participatory workshops with community leaders were conducted. All data collection tools were pilot tested with similar participants. The FGDs were stratified into male and female participants in consideration of diverse gender roles among the ethnic groups of Myanmar. Data saturation was the key cut-off point to cease recruitment of participants. Inductive thematic analysis was used. RESULTS: Community members were willing to be tested for malaria because they were concerned about the consequences of malaria although they were aware that malaria prevalence is low in their villages. Malaria volunteers were the main service providers for malaria and other infectious diseases in the community. Apart from malaria, the community identified common health problems such as the flu (fever, sneezing and coughing), diarrhoea, skin infections and tuberculosis as priority diseases in this order. Incorporating preventive, and whenever possible curative, services for those diseases into the current malaria volunteer model was recommended. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: There was a gap between the communities' expectations of health services and the health services currently being delivered by volunteers in the community that highlights the need for reassessment and reform of the volunteer model in the changing context. An evidence-based, community preferred, pragmatic community-delivered integrated model should be constructed based on the context of malaria elimination and progressing towards universal health coverage in Myanmar.
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