Expanding Praziquantel (PZQ) Access beyond Mass Drug Administration Programs: Paving a Way Forward for a Pediatric PZQ Formulation for Schistosomiasis
Treating preschool age children (PSAC) with schistosomiasis remains a challenge. Without a pediatric praziquantel (PZQ) formulation, the inclusion of this age group in control programs is limited, and general access to treatment in routine care settings is severely bottlenecked. There are, however, current platforms that target PSAC in primary health care such as the integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI), which could integrate PZQ in their portfolio and deliver a pediatric PZQ formulation when available. In addition, other age groups such as school-aged children (SAC) could also benefit from the IMCI’s successful strategy and be treated in health centers using a similar approach. This Viewpoint article reports a summary of a symposium held at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene national meeting in 2014 that brought together six experts in different areas in the field of pediatric schistosomiasis to form a working group that could provide recommendations for the inclusion of PSAC in the IMCI and other existing preschool outreach programs. This was to develop and adapt methodologies to fill existing gaps left by current mass drug administration (MDA) programs and synergize efforts for schistosomiasis control more broadly. Foremost, this includes a better definition of subclinical disease in young children to integrate into ICMI guidelines and further demonstration of the benefit of expanded access of treatment to children of all ages by encouraging universal access.