Qualities of an ideal volunteer community malaria worker: A comparison of the opinions of community residents and national malaria service staff

Trenton K. Ruebush, Susan C. Weller, Robert E. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since the late 1950s, most malaria surveillance and treatment in rural areas of Latin America has been carried out by networks of unpaid community malaria workers, known as Volunteer Collaborators, who are selected and supervised by staff of the national malaria services (NMSs) in each country. In spite of the free and readily accessible antimalarial treatment available at these Volunteer Collaborator posts, many residents continue to seek treatment elsewhere and in most cases take doses of antimalarials that are insufficient to cure their infections. To identify ways in which the Volunteer Collaborator Network could be made more attractive to residents and to improve the process of selection of new workers, we asked community residents and Guatemalan NMS workers to rank order, according to their importance, 11 qualities or characteristics of an 'ideal' volunteer malaria worker. Community residents preferred someone who is available to take care of patients at all times of the day, is a responsible person, and has a general knowledge of medicine. No significant differences were noted in the rank orders of male and female residents or literate and illiterate residents. National Malaria Service workers also preferred someone who takes care of patients at all times of the day, even when busy. In addition, they wanted individuals who recognize the importance of their work as a Volunteer Collaborator, but choosing volunteers who had a general knowledge of medicine was not inportant. By modifying the procedures used to select Volunteer Collaborators so as identify candidates with the qualities preferred by residents, it should be possible to increase acceptance and improve the performance of these volunteer workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1994

Keywords

  • Latin America
  • malaria
  • volunteer community health worker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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