Developing Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Strategies to Reduce Neglected Infectious Diseases

Reducing Prevalence of Trachoma, STH, and Ectoparasitosis in the Indigenous Communities of River Cubiyú, Vaupés, Colombia


The main outcome of the microplanning process was the creation of the Vaupés plan for the elimination of trachoma, reduction of STH, and ectoparasitosis prevalence with local and indigenous authorities. 

  • A working group was formed with participants from the government, the Mayor’s office, the Department of Health and Municipality Health Secretariats, the Vector-Borne Disease Program, public health and mental health programs, and leaders of the indigenous communities. All meetings with indigenous communities occurred in person. Other meetings took place virtually.
  • The situation analysis provided timely socio-demographic and population health data to inform decision-making of the working group.
  • The SIBACOM PLUS 2020 health information system was established to manage and georeference health variables, and local authorities were trained in the system to build capacity for its future use. 
  • An integrated microplanning strategy was proposed based on the situation analysis and identified interventions, with defined goals for changes in behavior, sanitation, and treatment.
  • A logical framework and the departmental action plan were co-developed during workshops.
  • Decisions were made in a participatory manner and endorsed by the different actors of the municipal and departmental health entities and the indigenous communities’ authorities of La Sabana and Virabazú.

Watch the video to learn more about the indigenous communities, prevalent diseases, and viewpoints on preventing and treating the diseases. Hear from the captain of the La Sabana community, members of the SIGIT research team at the Universidad de los Andes, along with experts from Vaupés Secretary of Health and the Mitú Municipal Secretary of Health.

Scroll down to see the key findings, challenges and mitigation strategies.

Key Findings

  • The microplanning process demonstrates the need to actively incorporate indigenous communities, and to guarantee the full exercise of their right to health and agency in decisions related to their health.
  • Active participation of the communities regulates the actions of institutions and increases acceptance of proposed interventions. 
  • Multicultural and interdisciplinary approaches to integrated campaign planning enables better understanding of problems and greater possibilities for solutions.
  • Intersectoral collaboration is needed when evaluating costs and financing integrated campaigns.


Challenges Faced

  • Socio-cultural beliefs about NIDs and how they should be treated
  • Language barriers; Interpreting concepts into indigenous languages 
  • Remote locations and high costs of transportation mainly by boat
  • High demand for services amongst non-study communities
  • COVID-19 pandemic and social crisis in the country which delayed travel and field work


  • Hiring local indigenous health promoters who spoke the Cubeo language
  • Using the microplanning process as a foundation for engaging with the community (generates a wider and shared repository of knowledge, optimizes implementation of campaigns)
  • Transferring capabilities to local stakeholders to facilitate communication with health systems and communities
  • Involving non-study communities in future efforts

Community education and training enables community members to become messengers of health information, including risk communication and prevention. According to the Health Secretary of Vaupés, “These trainings make the individuals the agents of change in the community.”