As part of the activities in the course Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care, class members write a blog on a current health issue. Amr Marawan has shared the context of schistosomiasis control in Nigeria on the class blog. His writing is reposted below and can also be read along with those of his classmates in the SBFPHC Blog site.
Schistosomiasis was described in papyrus papers thousands of years ago by ancient Egyptians. Then it was re-described by Theodore Bilharz, a pioneer parasitologist, 150 years ago in Cairo, Egypt. Schistosomiasis is among a group of neglected tropical diseases hitting sub-Saharan Africa. There are more than 25 million individuals infected and more than 100 million at risk in Nigeria. Among the different types of schistosomiasis, Schistosoma Haematobium affects the urogenital system causing blood in the urine and other symptoms and predisposes to urinary cancer.
Despite the global efforts over the past 50 years, we only achieved limited success in Nigeria. Most of the campaigns designed used Praziquantel for prevention and treatment, as it has shown great success in multiple countries. Unlike other previously endemic states, the use of chemotherapy was not sufficient to address this major problem in Nigeria due to several limitations. In 2012. The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a multifaceted plan to eradicate schistosomiasis. The plan aims at strengthening the local health systems, using chemotherapy, appropriate sanitation, and water systems, as well as promoting hygiene education and snail control. There will be multiple designs for this approach to address the different challenges in the different states.
In order to succeed in this battle, all the stakeholders should cooperate and understand their role. The Federal ministry of health in Nigeria should communicate and supervise the local communities closely to ensure that there is no waste of resources. The pharmaceutical companies play a fundamental role by supplying millions of praziquantel pills with the help of non-governmental organizations (such as the Carter Center). The schools and religious leaders should educate the citizens about this disease and the role of both chemotherapy and sanitation to lead a healthy and productive life. The local community leaders are responsible for maintaining the momentum to achieve the utmost benefit for their people in spite of the conflicting perception for this campaign.
Six years after the WHA declaration, there was a substantial success demonstrated by treating approximately 75 % of school aged children. There is a new road map issued by the WHO for the tropical diseases for 2021-2030 to address the gaps and finish the incomplete mission.