I spent some time in rural China of the Sichuan province in 2009 to learn why schistosomiasis, a waterborne parasitic disease, was endemic to certain parts of China, especially when drugs for treatment had been available for some time already. Particularly, a major concern was the possibility of drug resistance either already present or developing.
This project was the most heartfelt and also experimentally most interesting research studies that I have conducted. In this study, I was face-to-face with the people that I was trying to serve, conducting surveys** and learning about their habits. It was also combined with laboratory studies with the parasite itself to further look at drug resistance. Read about our study published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Luckily, we did not find that there were signs of drug resistance anytime soon.
**I spoke to local farmers and residents with a translator since they speak the Sichuanese dialect. I only know Cantonese and Mandarin.
Schistosomiasis is a “neglected tropical disease” (NTD) particularly prevalent in poor communities that lacks potable water and has subpar sanitation, leading to chronic ill-health and affected millions of people worldwide.