Practical Approaches to Implementing WHO Guidance for Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Programs in the Context of COVID-19: Mass Drug Administration (MDA)

Author
USAID, Act to End NTDs | East, and Act to End NTDs | West
Type of resource
COVID-19 and NTDs

Mass drug administration (MDA) involves administering medicines to community members for treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, and soil-transmitted helminths.  

NTD programs distribute medicines to eligible populations using several delivery platforms. Primarily, the methods are:  

  • School-based distribution, typically targeting school-age children. 
  • Community-based distribution. This can be either door-to-door or household distribution; or can take place centrally within the community (e.g., community center, place of worship, market, or home of a community leader or medicine distributor); or can be a combination of the two. 

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, and as programs are restarting field activities, adjustments are needed to ensure implementation is safe for health care workers and communities. WHO published interim guidance that aids health authorities, NTD program managers, and supporting partners on deciding when to re-start activities and which precautionary measures that should be put in place. 

This resource document complements the WHO guidance. Firstly, it reiterates guidance on precautionary measures to consider when planning for re-start; secondly, it provides ideas and practical examples on operationalizing the guidance so that it can be applied to field activities. It is designed as a resource for national NTD programs as they develop their own country-specific SoPs and should be adapted to country-specific contexts and environments.   

The guidance and examples contained in this document were led by in-country staff and are based on lessons learnt from experience with Ministry of Health-led NTD programs supported by Act to End NTDs | East and Act to End NTDs | West and build on materials developed by other partners including Ministries of Health, the Task Force for Global Health (TFGH) and ASCEND.