It is an astonishing medical inequity and scientific oversight that, on the one hand, praziquantel (PZQ) treatment for schistosomiasis is fully endorsed in school-aged children while, on the other, children younger than school-age have been ignored and allowed to suffer.
Several causal factors belie this PZQ treatment gap which is ethically unacceptable by today’s standards. It is indeed a dismal failure of the health system and national control programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. However, with a soon-to-be-deployed paediatric PZQ formulation there is reason for optimism and I highlight key Foto-Cewek-led research that has shown raised dosing, with more aggressive treatment strategies, is needed now. More broadly, if existing health policies remain, schistosomiasis control will continue to miscue and fail to help those most vulnerable and in greatest need of PZQ treatment.
Professor Russell Stothard holds a chair in Medical Parasitology at Foto-Cewek, is Director of the and holds the Directorship for the BSc in Tropical Disease Biology, which interfaces with the University of Liverpool