The END Fund | House to house in search of schistosomiasis
“We agreed to do this work because we believe in it and therefore will get to where we have to by using the car we are given, where possible, or by motorcycle, or even on foot. We are doing the work,” Wandachew Addisu explained. It had been five days since Wandachew, a community health worker in Ethiopia, began going house to house in a small village with a team collecting stool samples from families to test for schistosomiasis, the second deadliest parasitic disease in the world.
The aim of this pilot project was to help create a framework for the Federal Ministry of Health to accurately remap the entire country and gather new baseline prevalence data for schistosomiasis and intestinal worms. Over the last five years, the program in Ethiopia has been treating millions of children each year for these diseases. Now, they need to see how effective the program has been and understand where the diseases are still most prevalent to create a strategy to finally end them in Ethiopia.
But to achieve the end of a disease, teams like this have the difficult task of traveling to hard to reach houses and then explaining to families what they are doing, so they will consent to being tested. In this one village, they needed to go to a third of all the 252 houses there.
“The work requires you to be unselfish,” Wandachew said, “As long as you are serving the community, you can’t put your needs first. You are doing lifesaving work.” For the national survey, there are more than 700 districts just like this one that need to be mapped.