Background: Studies conducted thus far have demonstrated that the malaria vaccine (RTS,S) has a promising safety profile. Within the context of planning for future vaccine trials and for the purpose of building on previous research that has been undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa with regard to community perceptions about clinical studies, this research aimed to explore the community perceptions on the secondary health benefits established by the malaria vaccine trials (RTS,S Phase 2 and Phase 3) at the Korogwe site in Tanzania.
Methods: An exploratory qualitative study design was used. Participants were recruited from the Korogwe site. Sampling techniques were purposive and random. A total of five focus group discussions and six in-depth interviews were conducted. Interview guides with open-ended questions were employed to collect data. Male and female parents whose infants participated and those whose infants did not participate in the trials, health workers and community leaders were interviewed. Thematic analysis framework was used to analyse the data.
Results: The activities of a malaria vaccine project appeared to be well known to the community. Respondents had largely positive views towards the secondary health benefits which have been established by malaria vaccine trials. The project has led to a massive investment in health care infrastructure and an improvement in health care services across the study areas. The project was perceived by the community to have established major secondary health benefits. Misconceptions amongst respondents, especially with regard to blood samples, were also observed in this study.
Conclusion: Despite some misconceptions with regard to the conduct of malaria vaccine trials, especially on blood sampling, generally this study observed that most participants were positive about the secondary health benefits brought about by the malaria vaccine trials in Korogwe.