Control and Elimination of Helminth Zoonoses in the Greater Mekong Subregion
This project will contribute evidence to help control and eliminate schistosomiasis and liver fluke infections in the Greater Mekong Subregion. This economic area is bound by the Mekong River, covering 2.6 million square kilometres, and includes a combined population of 326 million in Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Parasites and disease burdens in the Mekong Infectious helminth parasites are a major health issue affecting humans and animals in the region. Infections from schistosoma and liver fluke parasites can lead to severe disease, including anemia, stunted growth, malnutrition, and liver cancer. The parasites that cause these diseases have complex life cycles. They move through humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. Contaminated water sources, poor sanitation, and risky food practices help spread them. Addressing the problem before it spreads While health authorities have reduced the overall numbers of cases (mainly through mass drug treatments of at-risk populations), parasitic infections continue to persist at high rates in certain communities. This is especially true for people living in poor and resource-limited settings. In some areas of Laos, for example, the prevalence of schistosomiasis is above 50%. The parasite reservoirs threaten to spread to other communities that have been disease-free, which would reverse the public health gains made in these countries. Parasite prevention and control This project expands on research from the Ecohealth Emerging Infectious Diseases Initiative, where researchers identified and targeted environmental, socio-cultural, and agricultural drivers of parasite transmission. Researchers will use advanced mathematical and epidemiological tools to better understand these transmission pathways: how much they contribute to transmission in different socio-economic and demographic contexts, and at local, national, and regional levels. They will then optimize interventions to prevent and control the parasites, and make them cost-effective and feasible in resource-limited settings. The team will work with national and international players to mobilize investments to control and eliminate helminth diseases, and to multiply these research outcomes across Southeast Asia.