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Adv Parasitol. 2006;61:567-622.

Implementation of human schistosomiasis control: Challenges and prospects.

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  • 1Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, UK.


Schistosomiasis is a major disease of public health importance in humans occurring in over 70 countries of the tropics and sub-tropics. In this chapter, the history of the control of schistosomiasis is briefly discussed and current methods of control of schistosomiasis are reviewed; including mollusciciding, biological control of the intermediate snail hosts, the development of drugs to kill the adult worms, provision of clean water and health education, with a focus on the African situation. Since an effective vaccine against schistosomiasis is lacking, the emphasis today is placed on the drug praziquantel (PZQ). The marked reduction in the cost of PZQ together with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has enabled the drug to be used more widely in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, with the possibility of resistance to praziquantel emerging, the potential role of other drugs, such as artemether, in the control of schistosomiasis is examined. The World Health Organization (WHO) anticipates that at least 75% of all schoolchildren at risk of morbidity from schistosomiasis will be treated by 2010, with the aim of reversing morbidity. The importance of recent international initiatives such as the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) working in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda is recognised. There are benefits to integrating the control of schistosomiasis with other disease control programmes, such as gastrointestinal helminths and/or lymphatic filariasis (LF), since this markedly reduces the cost of delivery of the treatment. Countries that are situated on the perimeter of the distribution of schistosomiasis have either achieved or have made progress towards the elimination of the disease. For control programmes to be successful in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, it is absolutely essential that these programmes are sustainable. Thus, it will be vital for Ministries of Health and Education to budget for the control of diseases of poverty in addition to school health, and to utilise funds from a range of sources, such as, government funds, pooled donor contributions, or bilateral and international agencies.

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