The Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) Had a Meeting in Shanghai

On 14 June 2016, leading experts in the control and elimination of schistosomiasis from around the world gathered in Shanghai to advance the World Health Organization’s goal to eliminate the disease in the world. Organized by the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) and co-organized by National Institute of Parasitic Diseases (NIPD), Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the two-day meeting brought together health specialists to discuss such topics as new drugs, mapping the transmission of the disease and alternative control strategies. Schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease, is one of the most devastating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in terms of public health burden and economic impact, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths per year. However, the solutions to control and ultimately eliminate it are known, inexpensive, and within reach. Treatment is very effective and Merck, a founding partner of the GSA, has committed to donate up to 250 million tablets of praziquantel annually to WHO, to treat the disease. “We are excited about the strides we were able to make during this conference. The lessons we can learn from our co-hosts, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, given the team’s experience of eliminating schistosomiasis in China, will critically inform our collective next steps.” said Dr Lorenzo Savioli, chair of the Executive Group of the GSA. Professor Xiao-Nong Zhou, NIPD added “We were delighted to host the GSA here in China and share our insights. We are particularly interested to see how our strategies and control interventions can be directly applied to endemic countries in Africa, for example, where it is estimated that 90% of schistosomiasis sufferers live.” A high-level summary of the conference presenting the status quo, current gaps in the field as well as a call to action can be found in the "Downloadable Resources" section on its website. Further, the presentations and resulting actions of the conference will be published in a post-congress Volume of the BMC Journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty.