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Webinar – Stakeholders’ Meeting on Combating Schistosomiasis using the One Health Approach

On Thursday 26th May 2022, One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) held its Stakeholders’ Meeting on Combating Schistosomiasis using the One Health approach. The meeting was organized to engage stakeholders and interested persons working on schistosomiasis to discuss next-level interventions following the research phase of the Project SCHISTO which has been ongoing across the Southwestern region of Nigeria since July 2021.

The meeting started at exactly 10:03 am with Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore, the Executive Director welcoming all participants to the meeting. She briefly discussed the purpose of the meeting assembling all stakeholders conducted briefly before inviting Prof. Alexander Odaibo, a consultant for the Project SCHISTO, to give an opening speech for the program. Professor Odaibo, who is also the Head of Parasitology Research Unit, Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science at the University of Ibadan, welcomed all present stakeholders and members of the public. He then spoke on the significance of the project and the expected outcomes from this discourse.

After the opening speech, Dr. Kikiope made a presentation on the results of the “Integrated One Health Research on Schistosomiasis in South-West Nigeria”. She started by briefly stating the goals and vision of OHDI, and areas where OHDI has worked in attaining these goals. She then introduced the research done while stating its significance and questions addressed by the results obtained. After that, she stated the methodology used and discussed the results obtained. The results highlighted the level of knowledge on schistosomiasis amongst stakeholders of assessed communities, the level of prevalence in those communities, and the environmental, vector and animal-related and sociocultural risk factors identified. After that, she discussed integrated One Health recommendations obtained during the study which include community outreach and awareness creation, provision of WASH facilities, effective implementation of Mass Drug Administration (MDAs), vector control, provision of open-access database for schistosomiasis, and regular updating of data on schistosomiasis in Nigeria. In discussing these recommendations, she applauded and recognized the ongoing work of stakeholders especially in the area of Mass Drug Administration (MDAs) but emphasized the need for interventions to go beyond just MDAs to more holistic and encompassing interventions that can be deployed with a One Health approach.

After her presentation, she further appreciated all the participants after which she initiated the Q&A session while also taking comments from the audience. Reactions, questions, and clarifications ere received from attendees such as Professor David Rollinson, the Director of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, Dr. Soneye, the State Coordinator of NTD Unit in Ogun state, Dr. Obiageli Nebe, Assistant Director and National Programme Manager for the Schistosomiasis and STH program, Mr. Ojo Kayode, the State Coordinator of NTD Unit in Ekiti State and Professor Uwem Ekpo, a Professor of Parasitology and Tropical Disease Epidemiology and a member of WHO Technical Advisory Group on Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthes (STH)

Dr. Soneye, the State Coordinator of NTD Unit in Ogun state commended the research done by OHDI while also stating that there’s a need for a regular update of data on schistosomiasis in Nigeria. She further stated that such updates will help health officials to know the number of existing cases of the disease in their locations and that will help them to carry out an effective MDA. She also mentioned that there is a need for more awareness of schistosomiasis in communities, particularly about Female Genital Schistosomiasis which she mentioned is becoming a growing issue of concern in Nigerian communities. She also advised that the new WHO policy and guidelines on Schistosomiasis control should be adopted at all levels of the public health system in Nigeria.

Mr. Ojo Kayode, the State Coordinator of NTD Unit in Ekiti State also commended the research while further stating that interventions should be devised from the results obtained so that the situation can be better.

Professor David Rollinson, the Director of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance commended the efforts made and the research. He also supported the need for attention on Female Genital Schistosomiasis. He then inquired if possible research is ongoing in Nigeria on hybrid Schistosoma parasite which is becoming an issue of concern in some African countries. He also asked about government interventions for schistosomiasis and guidelines for MDA in Nigeria. His comments were addressed by the facilitator and NTD Coordinators in attendance.

Professor Uwem Ekpo, a Professor of Parasitology and Tropical Disease Epidemiology and a member of WHO Technical Advisory Group on Schistosomiasis and STH, commented that cases of hybrid Schistosoma are already taken seriously in Nigeria, with research ongoing on them. He also stated the need for urgent interventions on such possibilities; that a new hybrid could be more lethal and difficult to control compared to the existing species.

Dr. Obiageli Nebe, Assistant Director and National Programme Manager for the Schistosomiasis and STH program discussed and emphasized on the need for mapping of schistosomiasis prevalence in Nigeria to be conducted in line with the WHO guidelines, and the need for development of a One Health strategy for schistosomiasis control in Nigeria. Issues were addressed by the facilitator, Dr. Kikiope, and the rest were reserved for evaluation and proper follow-up.

At the end of the program, Dr. Nebe gave a vote of thanks, while appreciating the attendees of the program and the OHDI team for their efforts in the control of schistosomiasis. She further proferred that OHDI worked and gaps and issues discussed and also devise a proposal for a One-Health strategy for schistosomiasis control in Nigeria.

OHDI appreciates all meeting attendees for their time and presence and will be sharing the final technical report once it is completed soon.

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