Integrated community-directed treatment for the control of onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths infections in Uganda: advantages and disadvantages
Onchocerciasis is co-endemic with schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths infections, which are all diseases of the rural and the poorest communities in Africa. Community-directed treatment (ComDT) for the control of onchocerciasis is the only functional health approach in most of these communities and the strategy has proven to be effective for onchocerciasis control. This study was conducted to assess the feasibility of integrating ComDT with ivermectin for the control of onchocerciasis, and with praziquantel (PZQ) and mebendazole (MBD) for the control of schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths infections in children aged 5–14 years, and to assess advantages and disadvantages of the integrated ComDT over the routine ComDT and the school-based treatment approach . Integrated ComDT achieved higher treatment coverage (85%) for PZQ and MBD than the school-based treatment approach (79%) among children aged 5–14 years (P = 0.03). There were more reported adverse reactions after treatment with a combination of PZQ and MBD in the school-based treatment approach (33%) than for the combination of ivermectin and MBD on day 1 and PZQ on day 2 in the integrated ComDT (18%). However, all adverse reactions were mild (headache, nausea/vomiting and abdominal pain). The integrated ComDT also achieved higher ivermectin treatment coverage for all ages (81.3%) than routine ComDT (77.2%) (P = 0.0003). To achieve even better coverage for PZQ and MBD among the targeted high risk groups, integrated ComDT should treat all age groups in areas where the prevalence of schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths infections is >50%. This would minimize the shortage of the drugs targeted to treat the high risk groups, as the non-targeted groups, will inevitably demand and receive the treatment from the distributors. The results of this study show that PZQ and MBD treatment for the control of schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths, respectively, can be integrated with ivermectin treatment for the control of onchocerciasis without negatively affecting ivermectin treatment coverage.