Nawarat Suwannapong and Saravudh Suvannadabba contributed equally to this work.
The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest pertaining to this article.
TT participated in developing the proposal and carried out data collection. MT designed the study, developed the proposal, analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. NS and SS conceived the proposal and the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Migration plays a major role in the emergence and resurgence of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in many countries. Because of the high prevalence of Imported Bancroftian Filariasis (IBF) caused by nocturnally periodic Wuchereria bancrofti and the intensive movement of immigrant workers from endemic areas, Thailand has implemented two doses of 6 mg/kg diethylcarbamazine (DEC) with interval of 6 months to prevent IBF. In areas where immigrants are very mobile, the administration of DEC may be compromised. This study aimed to evaluate DEC administration and its barriers in such areas.
A cross-sectional study with two-stage stratified cluster sampling was conducted. We selected Myanmar immigrants aged >18 years from factory and fishery areas of Samut Sakhon Province for interview with a structured questionnaire. We also interviewed health personnel regarding the functions of the LF program and practice of DEC delivery among immigrants. Associations were measured by multiple logistic regression, at P <0.05.
DEC coverage among the immigrants was 75 %, below the national target. All had received DEC only once during health examinations at general hospitals for work permit renewals. None of the health centers in each community provided DEC. Significant barriers to DEC access included being undocumented (adjusted OR = 74.23; 95 % CI = 26.32–209.34), unemployed (adjusted OR = 5.09; 95 % CI = 3.39–7.64), daily employed (adjusted OR = 4.33; 95 % CI = 2.91–6.46), short-term immigrant (adjusted OR = 1.62; 95 % CI = 1.04–2.52) and living in a fishery area (adjusted OR = 1.57; 95 % CI = 1.04–2.52). Incorrect perceptions about the side-effects of DEC also obstructed DEC access for Myanmar immigrants. All positive LF antigenic immigrants reported visiting and emigrating from LF-endemic areas.
Hospital-based DEC administration was an inappropriate approach to DEC delivery in areas with highly mobile Myanmar immigrants. Incorporating health-center personnel in DEC delivery twice yearly and improving the perceptions of DEC side effects would likely increase DEC coverage among Myanmar immigrants.