Parasitology

PREFACE/SUMMARY ARTICLE

Control of schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa: progress made, new opportunities and remaining challenges

J. R. STOTHARDa1 c1, L. CHITSULOa2, T. K. KRISTENSENa3 and J. UTZINGERa4

a1 Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, UK

a2 Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland

a3 Mandahl-Barth Research Centre, DBL-Institute for Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvey 57, DK-1871 Frederiksberg, Denmark

a4 Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Swiss Tropical Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland

SUMMARY

Several other journal supplements have documented progress made in the control of schistosomiasis in Egypt, China and Brazil, however, with more than 97% of the schistosome infections now estimated to occur in Africa, the relevance of this special issue in Parasitology cannot be overemphasized. In total, 18 articles are presented, inclusive of a lead-editorial from the WHO highlighting a seminal resolution at the 54th World Health Assembly in 2001 that advocated de-worming. Facilitated by a US$ 30 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2002, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative subsequently fostered implementation of large-scale schistosomiasis (and soil-transmitted helminthiasis) control programmes in six selected African countries. From 2005, CONTRAST, a European union-funded consortium, was formed to conduct multi-disciplinary research pertaining to optimisation of schistosomiasis control. Progress made in schistosomiasis control across sub-Saharan Africa since the turn of the new millennium is reviewed, shedding light on the latest findings stemming from clinical, epidemiological, molecular and social sciences research, inclusive of public health interventions with monitoring and evaluation activities. New opportunities for integrating the control of schistosomiasis and other so-called neglected tropical diseases are highlighted, but more importantly, several opportune questions that arise from it frame the remaining challenges ahead for an enduring solution.

(Received August 05 2009)

(Accepted August 13 2009)

(Online publication October 09 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: J. Russell Stothard, Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, UK. Tel.: +44 207 942-5490; Fax: +44 207 942-5518; E-mail: r.stothard@nhm.ac.uk

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