Development of training competencies to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of FGS for health workers
Schistosomiasis belongs to the group of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) found in tropical and subtropical countries, disproportionately affecting poor populations with limited access to safe water and adequate sanitation. Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) is a chronic disease caused by parasitic worms, schistososomes, transmitted by contact with infested fresh water. When left untreated, FGS can lead to severe reproductive health complications, such as sub-or infertility and ectopic pregnancy. FGS is a leading neglected issue in sexual and reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa; however, health professionals are not familiar with it, leading to misdiagnosis and improper treatment. A critical challenge in addressing the burden of FGS is the knowledge gap about the disease in communities and health professionals in endemic areas and the world at large. As part of an FGS Accelerated Scale Together (FAST) package, and in an attempt to address the knowledge gap in health professionals, we organized an interactive workshop bringing together a group of 64 participants working in sexual and reproductive health generally, and/or FGS specifically. Together, we developed a comprehensive set of required skills for health workers training on FGS. The workshop participants drafted 27 skills (or competencies) to diagnose, treat, and prevent FGS. Establishing what health workers must know is a crucial first step towards the integration of FGS into women’s health care. The competencies are now available and can be used as a framework in the development of training for health professionals, opening the doors to better reproductive health for women.