Introduction: Multi-disease community health campaigns can be effective for population-wide HIV testing in a research setting (SEARCH: NCT01864603). We sought to evaluate feasibility and uptake of a community-led health campaign (CLHC) planned and implemented by village leaders and local clinic workers in Uganda.
Methods: Over five months in 2014, locally elected village leaders and Ministry of Health (MoH) clinic staff in a rural parish in Uganda planned a census followed by a CLHC, after training by two SEARCH trial consultants and by leaders from a neighbouring parish that had previously participated in a SEARCH health campaign. We defined feasibility as: (1) elected leaders' participation in training and implementation of pre-campaign census and mobilization activities; (2) implementation of all campaign activities by MoH-funded, local clinic staff; and (3) community participation in the campaign, including point-of-care screening for HIV, malaria, hypertension and diabetes, and same-day referral for male circumcision and family planning (FP). Costing of all salaries and supplies was conducted.
Results: Elected leaders from all eight villages in the parish participated in CLHC training. They and local clinic staff met monthly to select and plan CLHC services. Village leaders then leveraged existing volunteer health teams to perform a door-to-door census, enumerating 5,202 parish residents over 2 weeks. 2,753 (53%) residents participated in the 6-day CLHC. Of 1,584 adult participants, 1,474 (93%) tested for HIV: 105/1,474 (7.1%) tested HIV positive. 27% (751/2,753) of participants reported fever and underwent malaria rapid diagnostic testing: 5.3% (40/751) tested positive. Among adults screened, 19% (271/1,452) were hypertensive, and 3% (18/637) had a random blood sugar >11.1 mmol/L. Of 805 men and boys (>10 years), 91 (11%) accepted same-day clinic referral and underwent medical circumcision. Of 900 women offered same-day long-term FP referrals, 25 accepted. The CLHC cost, including census, mobilization and testing services, was $23,597 ($8.57/participant).
Conclusion: Elected village leaders successfully planned and conducted a 6-day multi-disease health campaign with service provision by local clinic staff that reached over half of a rural Ugandan community. These data suggest it is feasible for local leaders and clinics to adopt a multi-disease health campaign approach to scale-up HIV testing in rural Africa.
Keywords: Africa; HIV testing; community health campaign; diabetes; hypertension; mobile testing.