Makenga Bof JC1, Mpunga D2, Soa EN2, Ntumba F3, Bakajika D3, Murdoch ME4, Coppieters Y5.
A community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) for fighting onchocerciasis was started in 2003 in the hyperendemic province of Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); such initiative was supported by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). As the APOC stopped at the end of 2015, there was an urgent need to assess the sustainability of an ivermectin treatment. A cross-sectional survey of knowledge, attitude and perception was conducted to determine the awareness level of local population regarding the disease. A multi-stage random sampling technique allowed the selection of 450 heads of households. Most respondents (96.9%) knew about onchocerciasis as a disease. The black-fly was viewed as the causing agent of onchocerciasis by 49.9% of respondents. The most commonly cited clinical manifestations were nodules (34.4%) and pruritus (31.1%), while blindness was the most frequently reported complication (90.7%). Approximately 55.1% of respondents had a good knowledge of onchocerciasis and CDTI. Overall, only 37% of participants had a favourable attitude and 46% a positive perception. Good knowledge was associated with school attendance (adjusted OR=1.9, 95%CI: 1.3-2.8, p=0.001), while education and continuation of treatment were related with good attitude (adjusted OR=9.7, 95%CI:4.8-19.5 and adjusted OR=19.8, 95%CI: 9.7-40.6, respectively, both with p<0.001). Good perception was associated with being at least 46 years old, non-Catholic and continuing the treatment (adjusted OR=3.2, 95%CI:1.2-9.1; adjusted OR=29.6, 95%CI:14.1-62.2 and adjusted OR=5.1, 95%CI:1.6-16.0 respectively, all with p<0.001). A good level of knowledge, attitude and perception is needed for a massive adherence of population to onchocerciasis control programmes. In the area of study (Moanza, DRC), good attitude and perception motivated the continuation of treatment in the population. In the future, different plans should focus on educational strategies to maintain a massive adherence and reduce onchocerciasis prevalence.