Schistosomiasis Elimination: Beginning of the End or a Continued March on a Trodden Path.

Schistosomiasis Elimination: Beginning of the End or a Continued March on a Trodden Path.

Bergquist R, Gray DJ

 

In spite of spectacular progress towards the goal of elimination of schistosomiasis, particularly in China but also in other areas, research gaps and outstanding issues remain. Although expectations of achieving elimination of this disease have never been greater, all constraints have not been swept aside. Indeed, there are some formidable obstacles, such as insufficient amounts of drugs to treat everybody and still limited use of high-sensitive diagnostic techniques, both for the definitive and the intermediate hosts, which indicate that prevalence is considerably underrated in well-controlled areas. Elimination will be difficult to achieve without a broad approach, including a stronger focus on transmission, better diagnostics and the establishment of a reliable survey system activating a rapid response when called for. Importantly, awareness of the crucial importance of transmission has been revived resulting in renewed interest in snail control together with more emphasis on health education and sanitation. The papers collected in this special issue entitled 'Prospects for Schistosomiasis Elimination' reflect these issues and we are particularly pleased to note that some also discuss the crucial question when to declare a country free of schistosomiasis and present techniques that together create an approach that can show unequivocally when interruption of transmission has been achieved.