Neglected tropical diseases

WHO signs Memorandum of Understanding with China and Zanzibar for collaboration on schistosomiasis elimination in Zanzibar

21 May 2014 | Geneva

The World Health Organization (WHO) signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding on 21 May 2014 with the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC)-China- and the Ministry of Health, Zanzibar paving the way for the start of a pilot schistosomiasis elimination programme in Zanzibar.

China has achieved the interruption of schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) transmission in most of its endemic areas through comprehensive strategies sustained over several decades. It now wants to share its expertise through a jointly developed China-Africa-WHO collaboration for schistosomiasis – a disease widely distributed in many countries in Africa.

WHO has worked with NHFPC on this project and several joint missions to Zanzibar have assessed the burden of schistosomiasis. Zanzibar was selected for a pilot elimination programme because:

  • as a small-island nation, population movement can be easily understood;
  • there is only urogenital schistosomiasis;
  • and, the endemic areas are relatively limited.

In addition, Zanzibar has had Chinese medical missions over the past 50 years from the Jiangsu Provincial Health Bureau.

Jiangsu Province itself has successfully eliminated schistosomiasis and experts from the Jiangsu Institute of Parasitic Disease will support the pilot programme in collaboration with the Zanzibar Ministry of Health.

WHO will coordinate implementation of the pilot programme. The WHO collaborating centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases in Pemba will work with the Jiangsu Institute of Parasitic Diseases to provide technical and logistic support, as well as the monitoring of the programme.

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