About 60 per cent of schoolchildren and adults in Mwanza region are infected with bilharzia, according to a new study carried out by Score Project under the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
The study was carried out in 150 villages surrounding Lake Victoria in Mwanza region,
NIMR acting director for Mwanza Centre Dr Mansuet Temu revealed this yesterday during a meeting with Score Project stakeholders.
He said the study, which started in 2010, was carried out in 37 villages in Magu district, nine villages in Ilemela, seven villages in Nyamagana, four villages in Misungwi, 55 villages in Sengerema and 38 in Geita.
Dr Temu said a total of 27,926 schoolchildren and 5,446 adults were tested and 60 per cent were diagnosed to have been infected with the disease. He said statistics showed that every 10 people tested, six were diagnosed to have been infected with bilharzia.
Dr Temu said bilharzia prevalence in Mwanza has surpassed the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard and that concerted efforts are needed to arrest the situation.He said Project was geared to carry out studies with the aim of improving strategies for fighting against the disease as well as providing medication for the infected people.
Dr Temu said Project would continue to research on the disease and to treat those who would be found infected.
Bilharzia disease, sometimes called schistosomiasis, is caused by parasites known as
schistosomoses and it is easily spread in freshwater bodies.
It is estimated that more than 200 million people worldwide are infected with the disease.
Although bilharzia is easy to treat, if untreated for a long time can damage liver, spleen, bladder, lungs and intestine. Untreated bilharzia can also cause abdominal blood vessel hypertension.