Sunday Times highlights how UK aid cuts undermine schistosomiasis elimination efforts

Half a million visitors flock to the tropical archipelago of Tanzania every year. Many are unaware that burrowing snails carry burrowing worms in the rivers and green pods.

Half a million visitors flock to the tropical archipelago of Tanzania every year. Many people are unaware of the fact that burrowing worms are hunting for human hosts in the rivers and green pods. The UK has been spending tens of millions of pounds each year to combat neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs ). One of these diseases is Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia. Zanzibar has been on the verge of eradicating snail fever in the decade following 2011. In April of last year, Britain cut off funding for this project as part of a PS4.2 billion reduction in foreign aid*.

“We’re seeing sporadic schistosomiasis cases in areas that were previously schistosomiasis-free,” said Dr January Zilabumba. She is an advisor to the NTD program of the Health Ministry. “This means that all the resources and efforts have been wasted.”

In Zanzibar in 2020-21, British aid accounted for 72 percent of the total funding pool for Schistosomiasis. The UK has not funded the program in the last year.

Unlimited Health’s chief executive, Dr Wendy Harrison, said: “It is frustrating that the UK government seems to have abandoned this cause in the last mile.”

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