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COUNTDOWN at the Female Genital Schistosomiasis Day 15.09.2019

Event 12 Sep 2019
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Experts in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), gynaecology, family planning, cervical cancer, child & adolescent health and HIV will gather in Liverpool for a one-day event focused on Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) on Sunday, 15th September 2019. 

The main aim of the meeting is to expand participants’ knowledge and understanding of FGS and discuss strategies to address it through operational research.

With support from DFID, COUNTDOWN is working in partnership with the European Congress on Tropical Medicine & International Health, Coalition for Operational Research (COR-NTD), Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and the World Health Organization Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases to organize this event.

FGS is a chronic gynaecological condition caused by Schistosoma haematobium that affects up to 56 million African women and girls. It is often misdiagnosed as a sexually transmitted diseases, resulting in stigma. Therefore, FGS requires extensive awareness among NTD researchers, health practitioners and policy experts due to its associated effects such as increased stigma, infertility, and leaving women susceptible to HIV transmission.  

COUNTDOWN researchers from Ghana and LSTM published a paper in PLoS NTDs that highlights the need for more focused work on Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS). The paper, titled ‘A Major hurdle in the elimination of urogenital schistosomiasis revealed: Identifying key gaps in knowledge and understanding of female genital schistosomiasis within communities and health workers’ follows three years of research by COUNTDOWN researchers from the Dodowa Health Research Centre in Ghana and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Ghana carries one of the highest burdens of schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa. The Schistosoma haematobium, which causes urinary (FGS) schistosomiasis, is the predominant human schistosome species in Ghana, and is widely distributed in the country. However, there is scarcity of information and knowledge on prevention, causes, diagnosis and treatment of FGS.

The work found that FGS was rarely on the radar of suspicion for health workers. More importantly, adolescent girls were often stigmatized by health care workers when they sought care in public health facilities owing to misdiagnosis of the disease as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The study was conducted in the Shai-Osudoku sub-district in the South-Eastern part of Greater Accra region.

The lead author of the paper - Ms Vida Kukula said:It was very disappointing and disheartening to witness the level of stigma some young women and girls experienced whenever they visited the health facilities with their painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Our work highlights the pressing need to improve training of health providers particularly gynaecologists and midwives delivering care to women/girls living in schistosomiasis endemic areas. It also calls for action by all stakeholders to create general awareness on FGS and its debilitating effects to women/girls when left undiagnosed and untreated.

As part of a comprehensive response by the NTD prevention and control program, the COUNTDOWN project working with partners from Dodowa Health Research Centre, used qualitative research methods to explore the knowledge and understanding of girls and women on FGS, as well as local health care providers’ knowledge and practice relating to FGS. Initial studies on FGS were boosted by a COUNTDOWN symposium in 2014 that brought many stakeholders together for the first time see www.fgsworkshop.org”.

The work found that FGS was rarely on the radar of suspicion for health workers. More importantly, adolescent girls were often stigmatized by health care workers when they sought care in public health facilities owing to misdiagnosis of the disease as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The study was conducted in the Shai-Osudoku sub-district in the South-Eastern part of Greater Accra region.

To follow discussions on the day and understand more on FGS, we will be tweeting from @NTDCOUNTDOWN

Workshop Date: September 15, 2019

Workshop Location:
ACC Liverpool
Kings Dock St.
Liverpool L3 4FP, UK

For security reasons, all participants must be pre-registered for the meeting in order to access the meeting venue. Register Your Interest here.