Control of Endemic Schistosomiasis in Rorya District of Tanzania


png;base64c17a66043172b41aThe children raced, swimming towards the fishermen who steered their small wooden boats filled with Nile perch to the Lake’s edge. Jumping into the water to pull the boats to shore, the men shouted greetings to the women washing their pots.

It was idyllic… except for the schistosoma lurking in the waters!

The marginalized poor population in Rorya District, residing along the coast of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, are heavily burdened with many diseases including endemic levels of schistosomiasis.  A study performed by Sota Health Clinic, located in this district, documented urinary schistosomiasis infection in 30% of infants, in 66% children under four years of age, and 96% of primary school students and adults.

There is evidence that schistosomiasis exacerbates the transmission of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis and affects human productivity. Chronic infection causes organ damage, anemia and growth retardation in children. It is estimated that 93% of the District’s population lack sanitation facilities (pit latrine), and 85% lack access to clean water.  Constant contamination of water bodies with human waste is enhancing the transmission of schistosomiasis.

A striking fact is that if human behaviour could be changed, the transmission of the parasite would cease. Given the poor mass population coverage using the WHO approved drug Praziquantel and subsequent rapid re-infection of children, we advocate the implementation of a policy which encompasses a multi-faceted, control approach of drug treatment, education, and water and sanitation improvements to immediately reduce the levels of schistosomiasis infections.  The Carter Center provides an excellent example of schistosomiasis treatment (in Nigeria), which if coupled with basic sanitation improvements and clean water would be vital to reducing schistosomiasis infections and improving the health and lives of those residing in the Rorya District in Tanzania.


One Response to “Control of Endemic Schistosomiasis in Rorya District of Tanzania”

  1. zechariahfranks Says:

    I completely agree! Schistosomiasis is by far the biggest hitter when it comes to neglected tropical diseases, and a multi-faceted control approach is going to be the best bet when it comes to halting the parasite. Your video makes a discrete antithesis to that point though because multi-faceted approaches to “schisto” often include changing behavior (along with molluscides, sanitation improvement, mass drug administration) and preventing people from going in the waters. Your video makes the point that this arm of an intervention project would be impossible because the people couldn’t make the money they need to live when avoiding waters. Sanitation improvement is very expensive, and molluscides can be difficult and expensive to to implement as well. So with limited funds and manpower, that leaves us with the cheap option/treatment, Praziquantel! But like you said, it is not really working. It simply puts a band-aid on a gaping wound. Other Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programs have worked (like the one for Onchocerciasis) for rural, water based tropical diseases. Why is it not working for schisto? It makes me wonder how those MDA programs, like the Schistomiasis Control Initiative were deployed. Were the communities involved and given ownership like they were for Onchocerciasis? This class has made me re-evaluate my criticisms of single target verical programs and shown me that those can be successful as long as the communities it affects gives them ownership. Great topic and thanks for sharing!

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