How our research could help more than 50 million women | Blogs

Three actions that can address FGS

1.Train healthcare workers to diagnose FGS
According to Olubunmi Babatola, a gynecologist who participated in our research in Nigeria, it is important to provide training so that health workers at all levels can recognize the signs of the disease.

“FGS can be easily diagnosed, and even the most unskilled people in the healthcare system can diagnose it,” says Olubunmi. “Healthcare workers should also know that medication treatment is available.”

2.Integrate testing into other health programs
We need to increase the number of women and girls who are tested for FGS. One of the best ways to do this is to include FGS testing along with other forms of treatment.

Adesugba Abigeal, a health worker in Nigeria, told us: “It is important to integrate FGS screening into the treatment of other diseases such as HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV).”

“It is also important to combine FGS with other programs carried out in health centers, such as family planning and health education. […] When women take their children to the hospital, we can test them and find out if they have the disease.”

Our research has indicated other ways that health systems could take a more integrated approach. Many countries are already running large-scale programs to combat schistosomiasis, but they typically focus on preventing children from contracting the disease. Our study suggests that these programs could also act as a platform to raise awareness about FGS.

3.Improve water, sanitation and hygiene
Women and girls often contract the parasite that causes FGS after coming into contact with infected surface water. The disease can be fatal if left untreated for a long period of time. We need governments and international NGOs to work together to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to communities affected by the disease, to reduce their contact with infested water.

We must also educate people in these communities about why they should not drink, bathe, or wash clothes in certain risky water sources.

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