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Diagnostics for schistosomiasis in Africa and Arabia: a review of present options in control and future needs for elimination



Within the World Health Organization 2012–2020 roadmap for control and elimination of schistosomiasis, the scale-up of mass drug administration with praziquantel is set to change the epidemiological landscape across Africa and Arabia. Central in measuring progress is renewed emphasis upon diagnostics which operate at individual, community and environmental levels by assessing reductions in disease, infections and parasite transmission. However, a fundamental tension is revealed between levels for present diagnostic tools, and methods applied in control settings are not necessarily adequate for application in elimination scenarios. Indeed navigating the transition from control to elimination needs careful consideration and planning. In the present context of control, we review current options for diagnosis of schistosomiasis at different levels, highlighting several strengths and weaknesses therein. Future challenges in elimination are raised and we propose that more cost-effective diagnostics and clinical staging algorithms are needed. Using the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a contemporary example, embedding new diagnostic methods within the primary care health system is discussed with reference to both urogenital and intestinal schistosomiasis.


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*Corresponding author. Department of Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK. E-mail:


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