SCORE Studies on the Impact of Drug Treatment on Morbidity due to and Infection.
The Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research (SCORE) was funded in 2008 to improve the evidence base for control and elimination of schistosomiasis-better understanding of the systemic morbidities experienced by children in schistosomiasis-endemic areas and the response of these morbidities to treatment, being essential for updating WHO guidelines for mass drug administration (MDA) in endemic areas. This article summarizes the SCORE studies that aimed to gauge the impact of MDA-based treatment on schistosomiasis-related morbidities. Morbidity cohort studies were embedded in the SCORE's larger field studies of gaining control of schistosomiasis in Kenya and Tanzania. Following MDA, cohort children had less undernutrition, less portal vein dilation, and increased quality of life in Year 5 compared with baseline. We also conducted a pilot study of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC-2) in conjunction with the Kenya gaining control study, which demonstrated beneficial effects of treatment on classroom behavior. In addition, the SCORE's Rapid Answers Project performed systematic reviews of previously available data, providing two meta-analyses related to morbidity. The first documented children's infection-related deficits in school attendance and achievement and in formal tests of learning and memory. The second showed that greater reductions in egg output following drug treatment correlates significantly with reduced odds of most morbidities. Overall, these SCORE morbidity studies provided convincing evidence to support the use of MDA to improve the health of school-aged children in endemic areas. However, study findings also support the need to use enhanced metrics to fully assess and better control schistosomiasis-associated morbidity.