Enhancing collaboration between China and African countries for schistosomiasis control

Abstract

Schistosomiasis remains an important public health issue, with a large number of cases reported across sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia and Latin America. China was once highly endemic, but has made substantial progress and is moving towards elimination of schistosomiasis. Meanwhile, despite long-term, repeated, school-based chemotherapy in many African countries, more than 90% of all schistosomiasis cases are concentrated in Africa, and hence, this continent constitutes the key challenge for schistosomiasis control. Opportunities and issues for international collaboration in the fight against schistosomiasis are outlined with a focus on China’s experiences, including the role of public health authorities and intersectoral collaboration, use of new and effective snail control approaches and diagnostic tools adapted to the specific stage of control, as well as the strengthening of risk mapping and surveillance-response mechanisms. Training courses targeting African governmental officials and professionals, coupled with field visits of African scientists and control programme managers to China, and vice versa, are considered important for improved schistosomiasis control and elimination. The crucial question remains whether the Chinese experience can be translated and applied in African countries to improve the effectiveness of health interventions and scale-up.

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