Geographical Information Systems: A New Tool in the Fight Against Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis is a group of parasitic diseases caused by Schistosoma parasites associated with bodies of fresh water affecting more than 200 million people in 76 countries. The disease is present on many continents, including Africa, Asia and Latin America. Like many other parasitic diseases, schistosomiasis has adapted itself to the particular ecology of the habitat: the presence of fresh water is necessary for transmission. The control measures for schistosomiasis include chemotherapy, health education and molluscacide use (snail control). In order to actively identify and control the disease, it is vital that up-to-date information on the epidemiology of the disease be available to the control programme manager. The Schistosomiasis Unit of the Division of Control of Tropical Diseases of the World Health Organization has been exploring the use of geographic information system (GIS) for monitoring the epidemiology of schistosomiasis. Initial studies suggest that GIS can be useful in monitoring schistosomiasis epidemiology and assisting programme managers in their control efforts. However, in order to fully realize the usefulness of GIS, the quality of epidemiological data has to improve and additional information has to be incorporated into GIS to examine the relationship between various ecological and disease-related variables.
KeywordsGeographic Information System Tropical Disease Schistosoma Mansoni Eastern Mediterranean Region Infected Snail
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