We’re raising £4000 to undertake an expedition to research, teach about and treat schistosomiasis in Madagascar, which will dramatically reduce the impact of this terrible disease and brighten the futures of countless children in the region.
WHO ARE THE TEAM?
The team will be led by Caitlin Sheehy, fifth year University of Manchester medical student, who participated in the 2018 expedition. Robbie Kornitschky is a fourth year Manchester Medical student and is the other member of the Manchester team.
Joining the Manchester team are others from around the UK:
- Dr Hannah Russell, Manchester Medical School graduate who was part of the original MadEx team in 2015 and 2016
- Fourth year medical student Heather Lawson (University of Sheffield)
- Biology Masters student at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Alice Reid
- Consultant radiologist Dr Graham Dodge who works in Brighton and Sussex
- Dr Stephen Spencer, the founder of MadEx and Manchester Medical School graduate
In Madagascar, the UK team will be joined by a team of Malagasy medical students and doctors from the University of Antananarivo who are integral to the success of the expedition.
MadEx was founded in 2014 and since then a team of medical students, junior doctors and scientists has carried out successful annual expeditions to Marolambo, a remote region of Madagascar. We will leave the UK in June and the small team will visit six different villages over four weeks to carry out research on the prevalence of schistosomiasis, teach local people about it and work with the Ministry of Health in Madagascar and local organisations to treat it.
WHAT IS SCHISTOSOMIASIS?
Schistosomiasis, or bilharzia as it can also be known, is a parasite which is transmitted by snails in water. When someone comes into contact with infected water, they can become infected. Poor sanitation leads to the water being reinfected and the cycle continues. The impact of schistosomiasis as a parasitic disease worldwide is second only to malaria. Its long term impact includes malnutrition, liver damage, organ failure and sometimes even death. Schistosomiasis can be treated easily with a medicine called Praziquantel, and during our expedition, we will be working with the World Health Organisation and Malagasy Ministry of Health to issue this treatment to everyone as part of a Mass Drug Administration (MDA).
WHAT IS THE RESEARCH?
So far MadEx have run four expeditions to Madagascar. In the first study in 2015 we found a prevalence of 94% (that's the amount of people who currently have the disease) amongst school-aged children in the Marolambo region and we are still analysing the data on the co-morbidities associated with the disease which were found. We are very fortunate to have a bigger team this year which means our research will cover several areas:
- Assessing if the overall infection intensity and prevalence of schistosomiasis reduces with annual MDAs amongst school aged children over five years.
- Assessing the prevalence of schistosomiasis in preschool aged children to contribute towards growing discussion about whether they should be included in MDAs.
- Comparing ultrasound of children's livers by an inexperienced person with an ultrasound carried out by a consultant radiologist. This could help make ultrasounds more accessible to less experienced technicians in remote environments to help communities monitor the progress of the disease.
- Studying the location of the snails which are involved in the life cycle of schistosomiasis to help inform the education programme.
- Continuing education of the local population in collaboration with local Non-Governmental Organisations and Malagasy medical students and doctors. Alongside educating children with fun games and interactive lessons, we will start implementing a sustainable education programme to enable teachers and local health professionals to continue education throughout the year.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Schistosomiasis is known as a neglected tropical disease, which means not a lot is being done so far in terms of eradicating it. As doctors and medical students we feel passionately that these children deserve access to treatment. Reducing the disease burden and therefore the long term impact of the disease means the children in this region can have brighter futures which are no longer weighed down by a chronic disease. This could ultimately have a positive impact on the development of the region.
By donating you are helping to get our team to Madagascar and making this work possible. We are working in line with goals set by the World Health Organisation to help combat these diseases and we will be working with locals to implement sustainable plans.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
All money raised will go towards the cost of funding the Manchester team on the expedition that we will be undertaking in June 2019.
Our minimum target is £2000. If we hit this target then we will spend the funding on:
- Accommodation - £600
- Food - £400
- Equipment for the research - £1000
Out full target is £4000. If we hit our full target then the additional money will help go towards our internal flights (£2000) to help get us to this remote area of Madagascar which would otherwise take five days to reach by road.
If we are fortunate enough to raise more than our full target then the additional funds will support the next expedition to further our research in 2020.
We will give weekly updates in the run up the expedition on our progress and you can keep up to date with our blog to see how the expedition is going.
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HELP US SUCCEED AND SPREAD THE WORD!
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.
Anything you donate will help us to further reach our final goal and help us to continue with our work.
Thank you - We are hugely grateful!