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Schistosomiasis Epidemic In Africa Essay

899 words - 4 pages

Schistosomiasis Epidemic in Africa
I recently read the article “The snails spreading fever across Africa” in which author, Meera Senthilingam elaborates on the schistosomiasis, crisis in Africa. Bilharzia is disease is caused by schistosomiasis parasitic worms which are generally found in freshwater sources-these parasites use snails as a host until they find a human host to infect. Commonly, these parasites burrow through the skin and may cause symptoms such as a swollen abdomen, fever and chills. In addition, once a human has become infected, the disease may stay within the body for years before the infected even experiences symptoms. This makes it even more difficult to control the ...view middle of the document...

WHO “estimated that at least 90% of those requiring treatment for schistosomiasis live in Africa.” In an effort to control and reduce the spread of schistosomiasis to at-risk African communities, WHO plans to improve sanitation, paired with hygiene education. Additionally, treating this epidemic will also involve increasing access to safe water and controlling the populations of snails that host the parasite. By treating a wide range of people, such as school aged children in endemic areas, entire communities in areas with effected water, adults at risk due to contact with contaminated water in their occupation, WHO hopes to reduce the spread of the parasitic disease. However, in order to heed the seriousness of the spread of this disease, it is important to note The World Health Organziation 2014 data shows that of those affected by the disease, only an estimates 20.7% of people were reached and received treatment.
I found this data, in addition to that related to the WHO in the original CNN article, to be alarming-“258 million require preventative treatment” AND 90% of people needing treatment live in Africa & only 20.7% of them are being reached for treatment! It is clear with this paralleling data that continued treatment and prevention of the spread of schistosomiasis is necessary for these effected African communities. Alan Fenwick, Director of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), drives this home with yet more startling statistics that there are ten times that number of people in Africa affected by schistosomiasis than those infected with HIV. Also a Professor of Tropical Parasitology at Imperial College London, Fenwick stated that going out and proactively finding children “who are infected and treat them” is...

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