Paediatric schistosomiasis: What we know and what we need to know.
Schistosomiasis affects over 200 million people worldwide, most of whom are children. Research and control strategies directed at preschool-aged children (PSAC), i.e., ≤5 years old, have lagged behind those in older children and adults. With the recent WHO revision of the schistosomiasis treatment guidelines to include PSAC, and the recognition of gaps in our current knowledge on the disease and its treatment in this age group, there is now a concerted effort to address these shortcomings. Global and national schistosome control strategies are yet to include PSAC in treatment schedules. Maximum impact of schistosome treatment programmes will be realised through effective treatment of PSAC. In this review, we (i) discuss the current knowledge on the dynamics and consequences of paediatric schistosomiasis and (ii) identify knowledge and policy gaps relevant to these areas and to the successful control of schistosome infection and disease in this age group. Herein, we highlight risk factors, immune mechanisms, pathology, and optimal timing for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of paediatric schistosomiasis. We also discuss the tools required for treating schistosomiasis in PSAC and strategies for accessing them for treatment.