Human-centered design process and solutions to promote malaria testing and treatment seeking behavior in Guyana hinterlands

Shirley D. Yan, Joann Simpson*, Lyndsey Mitchum, Jennifer Orkis, Trish Ann Davis, Sean Wilson, Neil Trotman, Helen Imhoff, Horace Cox, Gabrielle Hunter, Bolanle Olapeju, Camille Adams, J. Douglas Storey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Malaria is a persistent public health challenge among miners and other hard-to-reach populations in Guyana’s hinterland, specifically in Regions 1, 7, 8, and 9. Despite an overall decrease in malaria prevalence throughout Guyana, it remains common among mining populations whose work conditions both contribute toward malaria transmission and make it difficult to seek timely, Ministry of Health (MoH) approved malaria testing and treatment services. In an effort to develop innovative approaches to address this public health challenge, an interdisciplinary team of public health professionals, designers, and mining organizations collaborated using a human-centered design (HCD) process facilitated by the USAID-funded Breakthrough ACTION Guyana project in partnership with the MoH. Methods: This paper describes two phases: [1] Define and [2] Design & Test. In the Define phase, following a literature review, we conducted 108 qualitative interviews with miners, camp managers, trained malaria testers, health workers, and other key stakeholders to understand experiences and challenges when seeking malaria testing and treatment services. These interviews were synthesized into 11 insights on issues such as risk perception, malaria knowledge, preventive behaviors, traditional and self-treatment, adherence to the correct treatment, testing, and coordination and communication gaps. From these insights, during the Design & Test phase, we developed 33 “How might we…?” questions which led to 792 ideas, of which eight emergent concepts were prototyped and refined in the field with 145 miners, camp managers, and stakeholders. Results: The five final prototypes included: “Little Mosquito, Big Problem” social behavior change campaign; rapid counseling cards; branded malaria testing and treatment services; innovations in treatment adherence; and a participants, content, and logistics approach. Conclusion: When applying HCD to public health issues, there are both opportunities and challenges to reconcile gaps that may exist between the two disciplines. However, HCD provides additional tools and mindsets to generatively work with migrant and mobile mining communities to encourage malaria testing and treatment services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2287
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Guyana
  • Human-centered design
  • Malaria


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