Posts or Comments 24 June 2024

Schistosomiasis &water Bill Brieger | 15 Mar 2023 10:20 am

Effective Strategies to Eliminate Schistosomiasis in School Children in Rural Parts of Ghana

By Lauren Koranteng and originally posted in the Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care Blog. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” – Nelson Mandela According to the World Health Organization, Schistosomiasis is a “disease of poverty that leads to chronic ill-health “. It is caused by a parasitic worm that lives in freshwater snails. The larval forms of the parasite is released by the snails. Humans who make contact with the water during various activities like recreation, agriculture and also for livelihood get infected. The prevalence rate in Ghana is 23.3% , however there are some areas that have localized prevalence levels that are >50% ( Kulinkina et al). A vulnerable population that is often infected are school aged children who access the waters mostly for recreational reasons (Antwi et al). These are usually school aged children who live in hard to reach areas in the country with poor sanitation. It is important for the disease to be controlled because chronic ill health also impacts the cognitive abilities of the children. Praziquantel is a drug used for preventative chemotherapy against Schistosomiasis. It offers a solution to eradication of the disease and could be executed through drug administration of praziquantel through the school system. This kind of mass administration has been done before in the country, but unfortunately, the behavior of children swimming in these infected waters did not change. This behavior of continuous exposure of children to these water bodies presented a limited factor in the eradication of this disease and intervention. Using the national health insurance program in the country, praziquantel can be made available again but through school programs in these rural areas.  Additionally, the school curriculum can include health education that will encourage children to avoid fresh water bodies where possible. Sanitation improvement and reduced human and infected water contact will also be a priority health development goal. So, in working with stakeholders such as the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Education, a realistic plan can be developed and executed.  This can include a mass drug administration program, health education and sanitation improvement.  This may be reasonable interventions to use to support children who are in contact with fresh water bodies and at a high risk of contracting Schistosomiasis.

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