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A Quantitative and Qualitative Program Evaluation of a Case-Area Targeted Intervention to Reduce Cholera in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Individuals living near cholera patients have an increased risk of cholera infections. Case area targeted interventions (CATIs) promoting improved water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) present a promising approach to reducing cholera for those residing near cholera cases. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness and implementation of this approach in increasing WASH behaviors. We conducted a mixed-methods program evaluation in rural and urban eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The quantitative component included household structured observations and spot checks in CATI and control areas to assessWASH conditions and behaviors. The qualitative component included semi-structured interviews with CATI recipients, non-recipients, and implementers to assess CATI implementation. A total of 399 participants were enrolled in the quantitative evaluation conducted within 1 month of CATI delivery. For the qualitative evaluation, 41 semi-structured interviews were conducted, 30 with individuals in CATI areas (recipients and non-recipients) and 11 with CATI implementers. Handwashing with soap was low among both CATI and control area participants (1% vs. 2%, p = 0.89). Significantly more CATI area households (75%) had chlorine tablets present compared to control area households (0%) (p < 0.0001); however, the percentage of households with stored water free chlorine concentrations > 0.2 mg/L was low for both CATI and control area households (11% vs. 6%, p = 0.45). Implementers reported an insufficient supply of soap for distribution to recipients and mistrust in the community of their activities. CATI recipients demonstrated low knowledge of the correct preparation and use of chlorine for water treatment. Recipients also indicated a need for CATI implementers to engage community leaders. As CATIs are part of cholera control plans in many cholera-endemic countries, it is important to evaluate existing programs and develop evidence-based approaches to deliver CATIs that are both tailored to the local context and engage affected communities to increase WASH behaviors to reduce the spread of cholera.

 

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