Conducted by scientists from Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, the study sought to find out the level of effectiveness of treating human and animal populations at the same time.
The researchers pitched clinic camps on school grounds and embarked on treatment of roundworm infections in humans alongside dog vaccinations meant to eliminate rabies in 24 villages.
Dubbed ‘One Health,’ researchers said it could play an important role in the World Health Organization’s global campaign to vastly diminish the burden of NTDs by 2030.
Eight villages were provided clinics to treat roundworm, while eight were provided clinics to vaccinate against rabies in dogs, and eight others were provided with integrated clinics to do both at the same time.
The integrated health clinics saw 91.5 per cent of households per village receive roundworm treatment, while 82.5 per cent of households attended clinics where roundworm treatments were provided alone.
For rabies vaccinations, the integrated health clinics saw 86.5 per cent of households participate, compared to 90 per cent of households when rabies vaccinations were offered alone. During focus group discussions with clinic attendees, 85 percent said the integrated clinics result in “two for one” health treatments.
In addition to reducing time for those who would have to travel to two health clinics, there were significant cost savings by combining interventions for both diseases.
“Integrated health clinics cut transportation and publicity costs, lowering the cost of a deworming dose by an average of 12 US cents and the cost of a rabies vaccination by an average of 66 US cents,” says the report now published by BMC Public Health.
By positioning the clinics outside of school grounds and offering treatment to the whole community rather than just children attending primary school, the study was also able to reach thousands of people, outside of the 7 to 13-year-old age range, who would have otherwise not been vaccinated by Tanzania’s National Schools Deworming Programme.
“We need novel, cost-effective and complementary control strategies to try to tackle these neglected tropical diseases,” Lankester said. “This study is important because it shows a One Health approach can reduce costs and reach more people.”
The Washington State University’s study was funded by the Grand Challenges Award Programme of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.