Schistosomiasis is a waterborne disease whose life cycle involves freshwater sources conducive for the survival and reproduction of aquatic snails that form a connective link between man and water in the life cycle and transmission of schistosomiasis. The African region has network of rivers with freshwater suggesting the presence of schistosomiasis and difficulty to control. Some communities, due to socioeconomic challenges, have inadequate sanitation and water supply; use of bush toilets for excretion is commonly practiced. These conditions in Africa also promote transmission of soil-transmitted helminthiasis. The World Health Organization (WHO), in response to the public health and socioeconomic impact of neglected tropical diseases, is coordinating strategies for the control and elimination of the diseases including schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis. As one of the milestones, mapping of neglected tropical diseases in the African region has been prioritized for the implementation of control strategies. In countries where mapping has been completed, WHO and its partners are supplying medicines required for annual mass treatment for preventive chemotherapy and encourage countries to take ownership in implementing complementary strategies for morbidity control, elimination and eradication of country-specific neglected tropical diseases. The mainstay of helminthiasis control is preventive chemotherapy, targeting school age children to prevent morbidity and development of pathological manifestations, including urogenital schistosomiasis that is understood to contribute to HIV transmission. Vaccines are still to be discovered and designed, with many possible antigen candidates, but however the immune responses are still to be fully understood. There is need to understand the subtle link between each component of the immune responses and the host immunogenetics impacting on the translated immunological response of cytokines that are delicately controlled for cellular immunity and antibody production. Currently, preventive chemotherapy treatment is the only control method in concert with health education in an attempt to cut the helminthiasis life cycle.
Part of the book: Human Helminthiasis