HUGS presents at “Schistosomiasis in Health & Agriculture”, 30th May to 1st June 2023, Ocean View Hotel, Tanzania

Blog 21 Jun 2023
A group photo of delegates assembled for the “Schistosomiasis in Health & Agriculture” workshop

The HUGS team of Dr. Alexandra Juhasz, David Lally, Dr. James LaCourse, and PIs, Associate Prof. Janelisa Musaya and Prof. Russell Stothard were invited to a workshop dedicated to discussing Schistosomiasis in Health and Agriculture.The workshop took place over a 4-day period in Zanzibar and brought together various experts in schistosomiasis research programmes active in agricultural and health sectors. Regional representation included delegates from mainland Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, as well as internationally from the UK groups from Northern Ireland.

Dr Lorenzo Savioli opening conference proceedings

The workshop presented an opportunity to interact, learn and share different methods and techniques that are currently being used to tackle schistosomiasis within the region, as well as highlight future technologies that are in development. The workshop itself got off to an excellent start with opening remarks from Dr Lorenzo Savioli, whom many regard as the godfather of schistosomiasis work on the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar. Afterwards a presentation from Prof. Stothard introduced the 2022 WHO Guideline on schistosomiasis, with Dr Shaali Ame highlighting ongoing actions in Zanzibar.

The second day saw presentations from the various delegates with presentations by Dr Juhász on Bovine schistosomiasis in Malawi from the HUGS project and on Schistosomiasis in Malawi by Assoc. Prof. Musaya. Dr LaCourse discussed education and training opportunities with Capacity building in shistosomiasis and funding opportunities. Other notable highlights included a presentation on the use of Citizen science approach in schistosomiasis control in Uganda by Dr Cassim Tolo, Antigen assays for Schistosoma bovisby Veronika Toth and eDNA for helminth disease control by Prof. Geoffrey Gobert.

Assoc Prof Musaya presenting

The third day of the workshop involved local fieldwork led by Dr Ame of the Zanzibar NTD group, and Prof. Stothard, with a visit to an irrigation scheme in Kinyasini village. The new development comprised of a large dam and several kilometers of cement-lined waterways feeding into rice paddies.

Prof Stothard searching for snails in the dam




The visit saw the collection of snails at the dam and rice paddies, as well as faecal samples from cattle found along the scheme sites, for further analysis to be conducted at the Helminth Control Laboratory Unguja (HCLU) offices.

The samples were analyzed at the HCLU where a demonstration of the faecal hatching technique to HCLU staff and workshop delegates was conducted by Dr Juhász and David Lally, with microscopy led by Prof Stothard.

Dr Juhász and David Lally demonstrating faecal hatching

Following the demonstrations at the lab, delegates were afforded the rest of the afternoon off and took to the beautiful (but salty) ocean for a swim, where David Lally, David Oguttu and Martin Mutuku were given swimming lessons by Dr Juhász and Dr LaCourse. Prof Stothard used this opportunity to go snorkeling and bring back beautiful Indian Ocean starfish for the rest of the delegates to appreciate.

The fourth and final day of the workshop saw a roundtable discussion held in the morning between the delegates, where ideas on future collaborations and opportunities to progress schistosomiasis research from a ‘One Health’ perspective were shared. An online shared folder site was created to enable easier sharing of resources including, but not limited to, sharing capacity building opportunities which was championed by Dr LaCourse and Prof. Gobert. The afternoon saw the team bonding in Stone Town with a tour of popular tourist and historical sites, such as the Old Fort, and the Freddy Mercury Museum in Zanzibar, culminating in a team dinner at the Africa House.

The initiation in Zanzibar of this emerging consortium of researchers and educators, focused upon a common goal to combat schistosomiasis from a ‘One Health’ perspective, has made a positive start, fostering valuable networks and sharing ideas for future collaborations.  With the HUGS team at the core of this initiative, along with the expertise and dedication of other East African and UK institute researchers, the potential for significant progress in establishing a firm ‘One Health’ approach to schistosomiasis is ever closer than before.  Watch this space for more developments on partnerships, collaborations and progress!