Establishing and Integrating a Female Genital Schistosomiasis Control Programme into the Existing Health Care System
Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) is a complication of Schistosoma haematobium infection, and imposes a health burden whose magnitude is not fully explored. It is estimated that up to 56 million women in sub-Saharan Africa have FGS, and almost 20 million more cases will occur in the next decade unless infected girls are treated. Schistosomiasis is reported throughout the year in South Africa in areas known to be endemic, but there is no control programme. We analyze five actions for both a better understanding of the burden of FGS and reducing its prevalence in Africa, namely: (1) schistosomiasis prevention by establishing a formal control programme and increasing access to treatment, (2) introducing FGS screening, (3) providing knowledge to health care workers and communities, (4) vector control, and (5) water, sanitation, and hygiene. Schistosomiasis is focal in South Africa, with most localities moderately affected (prevalence between 10% and 50%), and some pockets that are high risk (more than 50% prevalence). However, in order to progress towards elimination, the five actions are yet to be implemented in addition to the current (and only) control strategy of case-by-case treatment. The main challenge that South Africa faces is a lack of access to WHO-accredited donated medication for mass drug administration. The establishment of a formal and funded programme would address these issues and begin the implementation of the recommended actions.