Background: Cholera remains a leading cause of infectious disease outbreaks globally, and a major public health threat in complex emergencies. Hygiene kits distributed to cholera case-households have previously shown an effect in reducing cholera incidence and are recommended by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for distribution to admitted patients and accompanying household members upon admission to health care facilities (HCFs).
Methods: This process evaluation documented the implementation, participant response and context of hygiene kit distribution by MSF during a 2018 cholera outbreak in Kasaï-Oriental, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The study population comprised key informant interviews with seven MSF staff, 17 staff from other organisations and a random sample of 27 hygiene kit recipients. Structured observations were conducted of hygiene kit demonstrations and health promotion, and programme reports were analysed to triangulate data.
Results and conclusions: Between Week (W) 28–48 of the 2018 cholera outbreak in Kasaï-Oriental, there were 667 suspected cholera cases with a 5% case fatality rate (CFR). Across seven HCFs supported by MSF, 196 patients were admitted with suspected cholera between W43-W47 and hygiene kit were provided to patients upon admission and health promotion at the HCF was conducted to accompanying household contacts 5–6 times per day. Distribution of hygiene kits was limited and only 52% of admitted suspected cholera cases received a hygiene kit. The delay of the overall response, delayed supply and insufficient quantities of hygiene kits available limited the coverage and utility of the hygiene kits, and may have diminished the effectiveness of the intervention. The integration of a WASH intervention for cholera control at the point of patient admission is a growing trend and promising intervention for case-targeted cholera responses. However, the barriers identified in this study warrant consideration in subsequent cholera responses and further research is required to identify ways to improve implementation and delivery of this intervention.