Utilizing images to convey the importance of taking medicine to treat schistosomiasis can increase community participation during mass drug administrations, according to a new study from Nigeria.
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by worms that live in freshwater snails. Schistosomiasis (also known as Bilharzia) is second only to malaria as the most devastating and persistent parasitic disease in areas with inadequate sanitation practices and snail infested water bodies. Worldwide, there are more than 229 million people requiring treatment for schistosomiasis, according to the World Health Organization.
To treat schistosomiasis, countries utilize a mass drug administration campaign, recommended by the World Health Organization, in order to treat as many people as possible in an endemic area in a short period of time.
In the pilot study, an image-based method was employed to raise communities’ knowledge about the disease. As a result, 100% of the participants that were shown images of the parasite agreed to be tested for the disease, 94% were willing to be treated, 89% claimed to have been invited to participate in the study by a friend, and 91% desired to change a predisposing behavioral habit that would prevent them from infection.
“The findings are an exciting development in our approach to educating a community where a high number of residents are infected. In order for a mass drug administration to be successful, we need a high rate of people to receive the medicine. Consequently, improving participation is critical to making programs more effective in preventing further infection and ending this disease ,” said Dr. Louise Makau-Barasa, a Senior Program Director at the END Fund.