The MADEX team is a group of medical students embarking on an expedition to research and treat schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia).
We are a University of Manchester based organisation that was founded, and is largely run by medical students.
The project was started by Dr Stephen Spencer in 2013 when he was in his final year of medical school at Manchester. Since then, the team has been on two expeditions to Marolambo, Madagascar. The research we have conducted has shown the prevalence of schistosomiasis to be incredibly high.
Schistosomiasis is a horrendous parasitic disease. In its impact, it is second only to malaria, and has been recognised as one of the world’s most neglected tropical diseases. Long term effects of the disease include malnutrition, liver disease, organ failure and even death.
The thing is that it’s really quite simple to treat! The problem we are facing is that many of the people who would benefit from the treatment live in extremely remote areas, thus making it very hard to deliver the medication they desperately need.
By travelling to these areas we will provide them with the treatment they need whilst setting up education programmes to improve local knowledge to prevent future infection.
As medical students we feel very strongly that these communities deserve the best healthcare they can get. This is especially pertinent as the treatment for schistosomiasis is so simple and available.
Building on the work we have done over the last three years, we aim to establish an annual student-led expedition to study and manage schistosomiasis infections in the Marolambo district of Madagascar. We will achieve this by:
1. Annual treatment: The World Health Organisation advises at least once yearly treatment to all people in the community where over 50% of the population have the disease. We have found that 98% of the children tested are infected, indicating the pressing need for annual treatment.
2. Health education: By writing songs, producing health leaflets and story books, and organising schistosomiasis ‘festivals’ and workshops for adults and children, we believe we can help further educate the population about schistosomiasis. By helping them understand the disease and how to prevent it, we aim to significantly reduce the infection rates in the local community.
3. Research: We are going to carry out research into the impact of the disease on the children’s daily lives before and after treatment. We will be assessing their levels of infection, alongside their fitness, growth, weight and presence of anaemia. By doing this we can accurately assess the impact of our project.
By donating to our project you are helping thousands of people in the Marolambo region who would otherwise go without the treatment they require. Without this treatment, many people will continue to be chronically infested with schistosomiasis and suffer from the devastating consequences.
It would be incredible to raise more than our target – the more we raise the more people we can reach!
We’ll keep you updated along the way – with the preparation stages before we leave and then as often as possible when we’re out in the field (wifi permitting!)
Find us here
Follow us to find out how we're doing.
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 we think it's a great idea, and 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.
Thank you so much for all your support.