The challenge of schistosomiasis treatment in young children and pregnant women – example of freeBILy

Utrecht, November 2023 – freeBILy partners joined the European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) held in Utrecht to present results from their studies in a specially organized session. The overall aim of the freeBILy project was to evaluate the accuracy of CAA (circulating anodic antigen) and CCA (circulating cathodic antigen) tests for diagnosing Schistosoma infections in women and young children. In this session the diagnostic challenges for schistosomiasis were discussed, as well as the safety, tolerability, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of praziquantel treatment in young children and pregnant women.

One of the trials presented at ECTMIH was the ‘Clinical trial to assess Test-Based-Schistosomiasis-Treatment (TBST) in pregnant women and young children’ conducted in Madagascar. This trial focused on integrating the Point-of-Care Circulating Cathodic Antigen (POC-CCA) test into routine mother-child primary health care programs. The results demonstrated the utility of TBST in controlling intestinal schistosomiasis and provided valuable insights into the diagnostic performance of the POC-CCA test.

Additionally, findings from a diagnostic trial conducted in Gabon were presented. This trial evaluated the accuracy of the UCP-LF-CAA test in detecting Schistosoma haematobium infections in pregnant women. Moreover, the research aimed to validate CAA as an endpoint measure to determine the efficacy of Praziquantel (PZQ) in intervention trials. Data analysis is ongoing and will be published soon.

The session concluded with a presentation on the development of a cost-effectiveness model for the strategies investigated in the freeBILy project followed by a panel discussion with all freeBILy partners.

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