In May 2016, we are travelling to Madagascar to measure the parasitic disease Schistosomiasis in children. We are bringing medication to treat children with Schistosomiasis, which will be given with help from the Department of Health, Madagascar.
With our expedition, we hope to establish partnerships to allow for regular student led expeditions to research Schistosomiasis and other diseases in Madagascar. Our project has already been sponsored by some generous grants including the University of Manchester’s (UoM) Learning Enrichment Fund and The Royal Geographic Society. We have £2000 left to raise to reach our target. This will allow us to conduct high quality research and impact the area.
Who are we?
This project was set up by Dr Stephen Spencer, a foundation year doctor and an alumnus of the University of Manchester. Joining him on the expedition will be the 4th year medical students James Penney and Cortland Linder. While in Madagascar, our research team will collaborate with doctors and medical students from the University of Antananarivo, members of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Department of Health, Madagascar.
The Manchester team with members of Durrell Conservation Trust
What is Schistosomiasis?
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasite which infects humans through contact with infected water. If present in the body for a long time, it can cause anaemia (low blood count), bloody poo, liver failure and even death. In Africa over 200,000 people die from Schistosomiasis each year, and in Madagascar about 50% of the people are infected. Schistosomiasis is treated with the drug Praziquantel. However, regular doses are required in epidemic areas, as children are likely to become reinfected with Schistosomiasis once the drug wears off.
Last year, our colleagues visited six villages in rural Madagascar and found that 94% of children had Schistosomiasis. This year our team will return to the same villages to investigate the burden of Schistosomiasis on these communities. The children will be treated for Schistosomiasis with medication which has been donated by the East Lancashire NHS hospitals.
What are we hoping to achieve?
Short term objectives?
There has never been a study like ours in the area of Madagascar that we are heading to. We have no idea how much Schistosomiasis impacts life in the villages. Our aim is to show international organisations and the Malagasy Department of Health that children in these villages are really sick and that treating Schistosomiasis in this area is a priority. Hopefully, the results from our study will help encourage international support and begin regular management of Schistosomiasis.
We also want to explore how children get Schistosomiasis and whether they are likely to stick to their treatment. Part of our project is to assess other ways of managing Schistosomiasis, such as education or establishing a supply of clean water. We will be running an education programme this year to inform children about Schistosomiasis.
Long term objectives?
We feel there is a moral obligation to try and organise regular management in this area. On completion of our project this year, we hope to set up yearly University of Manchester student-led expeditions to the same area of Madagascar. These will continue to bring Schistosomiasis medication, try other ways of managing the disease and expand the education programme. Each expedition provides a unique and outstanding range of learning opportunities and experiences for students. The work that we and future Manchester students do will contribute to social and economic growth in an isolated rural area that currently has few opportunities for development.
Where will your money go?
Our total budget for the expedition is £13,000, which covers flights, research equipment, food and local counterparts. We have been awarded a total of £11,000 by grants from organisations such as the Royal Geographical Society and a grant from alumni and friends of The University of Manchester through the Learning Enrichment Fund.
However, we are still short of our target, and we need your help to raise this last £2,000
Any funds raised over our target will be used to support the establishment of regular student-led expeditions, which will help to further medical knowledge of tropical diseases and implement long-term treatment for affected communities.
Find us here
Help us succeed!
You don't need to give money to help us succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog.
In fact, share it with everyone you know as the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly.
And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.