We are students from Washington University working with Empower Through Health. Empower Through Health is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving a community of more than 70,000 people from 54 villages across Eastern Uganda. As students, our mission is to reduce the adverse effects of infectious diseases in underserved communities throughout the world. Specifically, our chapter focuses on implementing a schistosomiasis eradication campaign in the Busoga sub-region of Uganda. Schistosomiasis is a tropical, parasitic disease that negatively impacts the livelihood of low income communities, affecting over 4 million people in Uganda.
Our objective is to use mass drug administration to treat infected community members while simultaneously researching how we can curb the spread of the disease. Alongside drug administration, we want to engage in a local education campaign to share important information with community members, leaders, and healthcare workers. We aim to partner with local healthcare workers to distribute necessary medication and implement an educational campaign. In addition to these interventions, we will focus on improving Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).
We will be mainly targeting children under the age of 16, who make up approximately half of Uganda's populations. This disease greatly inhibits children's physical and mental development, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Schistosomiasis also causes a host of other problems such as malnourishment, cysts and lesions, and urinary and intestinal bleeding. These symptoms will increase the lethality and effect of other diseases or conditions if left untreated.
It is possible to eradicate schistosomiasis as countries like Japan, Mauritius and Tunisia have already done so. Nonetheless, many African countries are still suffering from the highest infection and transmission rates of schistosomiasis in the world. Eradication of schistosomiasis can be simple because it costs $20,000 to deworm 100,000 people annually. However, further investment of money and time is needed to eradicate the disease as just deworming people is a transient measure.