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Acta Trop. 2011 Sep;120 Suppl 1:S121-37. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2010.08.020. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

From innovation to application: social-ecological context, diagnostics, drugs and integrated control of schistosomiasis.

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1
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, PO Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland. juerg.utzinger@unibas.ch

Abstract

Compared to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, schistosomiasis remains a truly neglected tropical disease. Schistosomiasis, perhaps more than any other disease, is entrenched in prevailing social-ecological systems, since transmission is governed by human behaviour (e.g. open defecation and patterns of unprotected surface water contacts) and ecological features (e.g. living in close proximity to suitable freshwater bodies in which intermediate host snails proliferate). Moreover, schistosomiasis is intimately linked with poverty and the disease has spread to previously non-endemic areas as a result of demographic, ecological and engineering transformations. Importantly though, thanks to increased advocacy there is growing awareness, financial and technical support to control and eventually eliminate schistosomiasis as a public health problem at local, regional and global scales. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent progress made in innovation, validation and application of new tools and strategies for research and integrated control of schistosomiasis. First, we explain that schistosomiasis is deeply embedded in social-ecological systems and explore linkages with poverty. We then summarize and challenge global statistics, risk maps and burden estimates of human schistosomiasis. Discovery and development research pertaining to novel diagnostics and drugs forms the centrepiece of our review. We discuss unresolved issues and emerging opportunities for integrated and sustainable control of schistosomiasis and conclude with a series of research needs.

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