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A.A. Madu, R. Mammo, M. Alexander; Participation–Based Training of Peripheral Health Workers in the Erradication Effort of Onchocerciasis (Riverblindness) in Benin . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(13):1958.
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Purpose:The purpose of this study is to determine if participation–based training would increase the knowledge of peripheral health workers in preparation for Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) of Onchocerciasis. Onchocerciasis or riverblindness is the second leading infectious cause of blindness in Subsaharan Africa, parts of Latin America and the Arabian Peninsula. It is estimated that nearly 18 million people in the world are infected while 335, 000 are blind from onchocerciasis. Merck Pharmaceutical donated ivermectin, a drug effective against the microfilaria of onchocerciasis, to aid in the World Health Organization's (WHO) eradication effort of onchocerciasis by 2020. CDTI was devised by WHO's Onchocerciasis Control Program as a cost–effective and sustainable method of distributing ivermectin to onchocerciasis endemic resource–constrained communities. Methods: The study site was located in Kandi, Northern Benin,West Africa. A Pretest–Posttest analysis of the test scores of 33 peripheral health workers before and after a one–week long participation–based training was conducted. The training covered areas of knowledge key in the successful implementation of CDTI as determined by WHO, including the transmission, prevention, treatment and control of onchocerciasis as well as the inclusion/exclusion criteria, pharmacology, and effects of ivermectin treatment. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test and Wilcoxon two–sample statistical method were used for statistical analysis of the test scores. Results: There was a statistically significant increase in the median test score of the peripheral health workers from 25% to 69%, or 2.7 fold, using the participation–based model of training (p–value < 0.001). Conclusions: Participation–based training of peripheral health workers is an effective method of increasing their knowledge level in preparation for the implementation of CDTI. This model of training may be useful in not only the eradication effort of onchocerciasis but also other infectious diseases such as trachoma, which also afflicts communities with limited resources.
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