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The FAST package seeks to improve adolescent girls’ and women’s health by reducing the morbidity associated with Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS).
Image Credit: END Fund/Viviane Rakotoarivony
Countries: Madagascar, Ghana
Implementing partners: NTD programme – Madagascar Ministry of Health, NTD Programme – Ghana Health Service, Canada’s Bruyère Research Institute, Bridges to Development, Association Kolo’Vanona, and University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana
Funder: Canadian Government through Grand Challenges Canada With match funding support from Merck Global Health Institute, the Coalition for Operational Research (COR-NTD), WHO’s Expanded Special Project for Elimination of NTDs (ESPEN) and Unlimit health
Timescale: November 2020 – September 2022
The FAST package aims to treat and prevent FGS in affected women and girls in Madagascar and Ghana.
These two countries selected are endemic for schistosomiasis, both have a high population under the age of 25 and the NTD programme managers in both countries are committed to tackling FGS in an integrated and sustainable manner.
The project will create a pathway to a scale of interventions that address the burden of FGS in girls and women in the selected countries. It will combine and scale up proven interventions that have been shown independently to improve diagnosis and clinical outcomes, while supporting the uptake and demand for treatment through mass drug administration (MDA) to prevent further infection and disease. The interventions include the following:
Unlimit Health sits on the Technical Advisory Committee – providing expert technical advice for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the project.
The FAST package covers the life span of a woman from prevention of new infections with schistosomiasis and new cases of FGS, through diagnosis and treatment for existing FGS cases, to treatment for symptoms of complications due to FGS as a woman ages.
It provides a holistic approach to FGS, and the transition to scale will combine the project objectives for highest impact and sustainability.
In May 2021 more than 100 health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa took part in a workshop aimed at fostering collaboration and peer learning on FGS. The event, part of the FAST project, was hosted by Bridges to Development in partnership with the Geneva Learning Foundation.
At the workshop, participants were encouraged to see themselves as advocates for action to reduce the suffering of women and girls due to FGS. It was an opportunity for them to expand on their knowledge, assess risk factors, prevent, diagnose, and manage FGS in their own context.
Unlimit Health attended the workshop as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) to facilitate learning, provide feedback and review the workshop outputs.
The main output of the workshop was this document, which was developed through group discussions, action planning, problem solving and a detailed peer review process.