In March 2011, Upenyu will spearhead the country's first schistosomiasis control program.In phase one of the control program, we will implement mass drug administration (MDA) in schools, for the nearly 30,000 people living around Nyadire Mission Hospital.
Prevalence rates in these schools are as high as 90% (compared to 40% overall prevalence in Zimbabwe).
In phase two, we hope to expand the program to cover all of the Mutoko and Murewa Districts, an area comprising 120,000 people.
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a parasitic worm infection transmitted by exposure to contaminated water. Infection is chronic and debilitating, and is also known to increase HIV transmission. It is especially known for preventing cognitive development in children, causing fatigue in class, and correlated with absence from class. Disease can be treated with a single dose of the drug praziquantel.
To monitor the program, we track infection, nutritional status and anemia in 500 treated children. This research is done primarily in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research.