Rapid ethnographic assessment for potential anti-malarial mass drug administration in an outbreak area of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Hunter Keys, Keyla Ureña, Jhefres Reyes, Kevin Bardosh, Christopher Pell, Jose Puello, Stephen Blount, Gregory S. Noland

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In the Dominican Republic, a recent outbreak of malaria in the capital, Santo Domingo, threatens efforts to eliminate the disease. Mass drug administration (MDA) has been proposed as one strategy to reduce transmission. The success of MDA is contingent upon high levels of acceptance among the target population. To inform the design of future MDA campaigns, this rapid ethnographic assessment examined malaria-related knowledge and attitudes toward malaria MDA among residents of a transmission focus in Santo Domingo. Methods: In October 2019, a rapid ethnographic assessment was conducted in the Los Tres Brazos transmission focus, which had not previously received MDA. National malaria programme staff conducted 61 structured interviews with key informants, recorded observations, and held 72 informal conversations. Using a grounded theory approach, data were analysed during three workshop sessions with research team members. Results: Among those who had heard of malaria in the structured interviews (n = 39/61; 64%), understanding of the disease was largely based on personal experience from past outbreaks or through word-of-mouth. Community health workers (promotores) were trusted for health information and malaria diagnosis more so than professional clinicians. No participant (0%) was familiar with malaria MDA. After learning about MDA, almost all study participants (92%) said that they would participate, seeing it as a way to care for their community. Reasons for not participating in future MDA included not trusting drug administrators, feeling reluctant to take unprescribed medicine, and fear of missing work. Additional identified challenges to MDA included reaching specific demographic groups, disseminating effective MDA campaign messages, and managing misinformation and political influence. Conclusion: Residents appear accepting of MDA despite a lack of prior familiarity. Successful MDA will depend on several factors: fostering relationships among community-based health workers, clinicians, community leaders, and others; developing clear health messages that use local terms and spreading them through a variety of media and social networks; and contextualizing MDA as part of a broader effort to promote community health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Dominican Republic
  • Malaria
  • Mass drug administration
  • Mixed methods
  • Rapid ethnographic assessment

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