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Schistosomiasis Control in China

Diagnostics and Control Strategies Leading to Success

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Pauline Grys

Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases worldwide and continues to be a public health concern in many countries. China made huge progress in the control of Schistosomiasis japonica, aiming at the elimination of the disease from many previously endemic areas. This book presents a scientific investigation into the practical implementation of the Chinese national control strategy at the grass root level. It focusses on availability and composition of human resources for control and on performance of sero-diagnostic tests needed for case detection and surveillance. The main message of this book is that effective control and elimination of Schistosomiasis are feasible, but high levels of support for control need to be sustained to prevent resurgence of this disease.

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3.1 Description of schistosomiasis control system in Wuhan

The system of schistosomiasis control is barely, if at all, known in detail in Western countries, mainly because of language barriers and lack of knowledge of Chinese administrative structures. This is quite in contrast to the situation in African and American schistosomiasis control, which is easily understood due to the historical (usually colonial) history and absence of language problems. This chapter presents the results obtained from investigating local documents and from numerous informal interviews with leaders and workers in schistosomiasis control in Wuhan.

3.1.1 Historical background

Historical records related to or explicitly mentioning schistosomiasis in Wuhan date back to the late 19th century. In 1881, Oncomelania hupensis snails were first found and identified in Wuhan’s Jiangxia district by the missionary P. Kaspar Fuchs. Hospital records from 1910 from a church hospital in Hankou district reporting on patients with symptoms typical of schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis prevention activities in Wuhan, as in all other endemic areas in China, were conducted purely locally for a long time and remained very sporadic (Yang 2005). Only after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 did schistosomiasis control appear on the health agenda and was more frequently promoted officially. In 1953, Wuhan Medical College conducted tests on 400 people and found that 248 were infected with Schistosomiasis. This was the start of population screenings in key endemic areas (Yang 2005). However, for the following fifty years,...

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