"Geographical Distribution of Intestinal Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis and Preventive Chemotherapy Strategies in Sierra Leone"
Mary Hodges, HKI's Sierra Leone country director, and Yaobi Zhang, HKI's Regional NTD Program Coordinator based in Senegal, contributed to this paper, along with other public health officials in Sierra Leone.
The common intestinal roundworm, whipworm and hookworm (together known as soil-transmitted helminthes - STHs) together with schistosomes or bilharzia are responsible for extensive ill health, reduced life expectancy and death in sub-Saharan Africa. These diseases are transmitted in areas of poor water supply and sanitation. In order to implement an appropriate national control program, knowledge of the prevalence and geographical distribution of these diseases is required. A national survey was performed in Sierra Leone in 2008. Overall prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis was 18.4% and that of STHs was 39.1%. Intestinal schistosomiasis was mainly prevalent in the northern and eastern regions while STH is widespread in the country. The results justify routine de-worming for pre-school children, school age children, women of childbearing age, and adults at high risk twice a year. The results also justify using anti-schistosomiasis drug (praziquantel) in school age children, all women of childbearing age, and adults at high risk annually or biennially depending upon the prevalence in the areas.