Evaluation of integrated interventions layered on mass drug administration for urogenital schistosomiasis elimination: a cluster-randomised trial
Background: Elimination of schistosomiasis as a public health problem and interruption of transmission in selected areas are targets set by WHO for 2025. Our aim was to assess biannual mass drug administration (MDA) applied alone or with complementary snail control or behaviour change interventions for the reduction of Schistosoma haematobium prevalence and infection intensity in children from Zanzibar and to compare the effect between the clusters.
Methods: In a 5-year repeated cross-sectional cluster-randomised trial, 90 shehias (small administrative regions; clusters) in Zanzibar eligible owing to available natural open freshwater bodies and public primary schools were randomly allocated (ratio 1:1:1) to receive one of three interventions: biannual MDA with praziquantel alone (arm 1) or in combination with snail control (arm 2), or behaviour change activities (arm 3). Neither participants nor field or laboratory personnel were blinded to the intervention arms. From 2012 to 2017, annually, a single urine sample was collected from approximately 100 children aged 9–12 years in the main public primary school of each shehia. The primary outcome was S haematobium infection prevalence and intensity in 9–12-year-old children after 5 years of follow-up. This study is completed and was registered with the ISRCTN, number 48837681.
Findings: The trial was done from Nov 1, 2011, through to Dec 31, 2017 and recruitment took place from Nov 2, 2011, until May 17, 2017. At baseline we enrolled 8278 participants, of whom 2899 (35%) were randomly allocated to arm 1, 2741 (33%) to arm 2, and 2638 (32%) to arm 3. 120 (4·2%) of 2853 in arm 1, 209 (7·8%) of 2688 in arm 2, and 167 (6·4%) of 2613 in arm 3 had S haematobium infections at baseline. Heavy infections (≥50 eggs per 10 mL of urine) were found in 126 (1·6%) of 8073 children at baseline. At the 5-year endline survey, 46 (1·4%) of 3184 in arm 1, 56 (1·7%) of 3217 (odds ratio [OR] 1·2 [95% CI 0·6–2·7] vs arm 1) in arm 2, and 58 (1·9%) of 3080 (1·3 [0·6–2·9]) in arm 3 had S haematobium infections. Heavy infections were detected in 33 (0·3%) of 9462 children.
Interpretation: Biannual MDA substantially reduced the S haematobium prevalence and infection intensity but was insufficient to interrupt transmission. Although snail control or behaviour change activities did not significantly boost the effect of MDA in our study, they might enhance interruption of transmission when tailored to focal endemicity and applied for a longer period. It is now necessary to focus on reducing prevalence in remaining hotspot areas and to introduce new methods of surveillance and public health response so that the important gains can be maintained and advanced.