Schistosomiasis in two Nile delta villages: an anthropological perspective
In the rapidly changing Nile delta villages, applied research for schistosomiasis control requires a holistic view of the social and environmental setting of the disease. An interdisciplinary, participatory study of two delta villages studied human behaviour in relation to disease transmission, knowledge and treatment using the insights and methods of social science, especially anthropology. Through primarily qualitative techniques such as focus group discussions and participant observation, we found that most people who used the canals for domestic, recreational or agricultural activities thought that they had little alternative but to do so, even though they knew of the risk of exposure to schistosomiasis. The knowledge and behaviour of villagers with regard to schistosomiasis affected their utilization of the local provisions for schistosomiasis diagnosis and treatment. Our monitoring of diagnosis and testing for schistosomiasis at a local health centre identified areas which could be upgraded, and we trained health staff to improve their knowledge of schistosomiasis. Our findings reinforce the need for integrated research and implementation strategies, taking into account the knowledge and capabilities of all those involved in schistosomiasis control at the village level, and the fostering of effective communication between villagers, both women and men, and the local staff in rural health centres.