The Regional Network for Research, Surveillance and Control for Asian Schistosomiasis (RNAS) was established in 1998 with the aim to strengthen the communication, cooperation and coordination among scientists and control authorities concerned with schistosomiasis japonica at the regional level, including 5 member countries in Asia, namely Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines.
More specifically the major objectives of RNAS have been to:
- Coordinate and secure support for research on surveillance and control of schistosomiasis transmission in humans and animals;
- Disseminate information about ongoing research and training activities;
- Develop standardized protocols for infection and disease surveillance.
Schistosomosis is one of the parasitic infections of most concern to the World Health Organization and is second to malaria in terms of human burden of disease in public health and socioeconomic domains. Schistosoma japonicum infection is endemic to specific regions in the Peoples Republic of China and the Philippines with about 6975 million individuals at risk of infection. There are maximum estimates from 1990 that about 2.4 million individuals are infected at any one time. It is unique among the major schistosomes infecting humans in that its intermediate host snail is amphibious. It is the only schistosome for which zoonotic transmission is considered important, with domesticated animals serving as principal reservoir hosts of the parasite. The human burdens of infection and disease from S. japonicum have been reduced in China and the Philippines. However, S. japonicum infection remains a public health problem in the lake and marshland regions and mountainous regions of China and in the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar and Mindinao. In these endemic areas further reductions may be difficult because of the contributions by S. japonicum infected animals to continued transmission among humans.
An International Symposium on Schistosomosis was held in wuxi ,P.R.China in September 1998. During the symposium , a Regional Network for Research, Surveillance and Control of Schistosomosis japonica was formed and is to be co-chaired by Dr Feng Zheng, Director, Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Shanghai and Dr Remigio Olveda, Director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, The Philippine Department of Health in Manila.A working group of the regional network was formed, too.