Policy ForumGlobal Health

Stagnant Health Technologies in Africa

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Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1483-1484
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195401

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In Madina village, outside Accra, Ghana, children tease each other about whose urine has a redder color. Apart from being strikingly thin, they look healthy. Yet they could be affected by Schistosoma haematobium (1), a parasitic disease common in Africa, where local prevalence rates can exceed 50% (2). Early diagnosis ensures inexpensive and effective treatment and prevents stunted growth and developmental disabilities in children and bladder cancer or other organ damage in adults (3). But the standard method of detecting the disease, microscopic identification of eggs in urine or stool, requires patients to visit a hospital laboratory, something not practical for many people living in rural Ghana.