This page describes a call for proposals which has since closed.
The Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center (NTD-SC) at The Task Force for Global Health is currently soliciting proposals for operational research to address female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), a chronic manifestation of schistosome infections in women and girls. FGS causes considerable inequity by: misdiagnosis and confusion with symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs); social exclusion due to the impact on fertility, marital discord and depression, and; stigma that is associated with sexual and reproductive morbidity for women and girls. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 56 million women and girls are living with FGS in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent published research has recommended urgent global action to address FGS, in order to improve health and social outcomes for millions of women and girls in Africa.
Following a successful meeting of global experts in Liverpool, UK in September 2019, a series of operational research questions emerged from the meeting proceedings that addressed: 1) the clinical picture and clinical diagnosis of FGS; 2) the social impact of the disease; 3) the link to HIV infection and; 4) the potential to integrate FGS care for women and girls into existing health services. Meeting participants agreed that knowledge about FGS is low within different levels of the health system, resulting in routine misdiagnosis of women and girls who report with symptoms. In addition, prolonged suffering from FGS causes a significant social impact as it affects women’s sexual and reproductive health. One particularly important output of the meeting was the call to integrate FGS with HIV/AIDS and HPV/cervical cancer programs, to constitute a comprehensive and sustainable package of interventions.
This RFP will contribute to further understanding of how to address FGS within communities and in the health system. Addressing FGS at the community level can help to reduce some of the social stigma that women and girls face when seeking care for FGS-related symptoms. Integrating FGS into existing sexual and reproductive health services (including cervical cancer/HPV and HIV services) can contribute to health system strengthening at the primary health care level and sustainability of services. At the clinical level, strengthening understanding about the disease and its manifestations will help to improve the diagnosis and treatment for millions of women and girls who are estimated to be living with this NTD-related morbidity.
With this RFP, the NTD-SC is soliciting research proposals related to:
1) the clinical picture of FGS, including how to improve diagnosis;
2) sustainable integration of FGS-related services;
3) an improved clinical training program;
4) better community understanding about FGS so as to build social cohesion around treatment and prevention and to reduce associated stigma.
Examples of potential research topics might include:
- Integration of FGS-related services into cervical cancer screening programs; HPV prevention activities; and/or sexual and reproductive health services for women;
- Integration of FGS information into routine in-service training programs at all levels of the health care system;
- Development of an agreed clinical diagnostic algorithm and tools that could be used at different levels of the health care system;
- Analysis of FGS knowledge and understanding amongst endemic community members and development of strategies to improve awareness;
- Analysis of the impact and burden of stigma due to FGS for women and adolescent girls with the aim to develop strategies to reduce stigma;
- Investigation of the role of volunteer drug distributors and other non-formal health workers in reaching community members to sensitize about FGS, its prevention and symptoms;
- Pilot test activities linked with the STI/HIV/AIDS community to increase awareness of FGS as a risk factor for HIV infection.
This is not an exhaustive list of topics to be funded, and other relevant ideas will be considered.
With this call, the NTD-SC seeks proposals that are nested within national programs and which establish a foundation for integrating FGS-related activities into national health systems. Projects will be funded with UKAid through the UK Department for International Development through the NTD-SC, which serves as Secretariat for the Coalition for Operational Research on NTDs (COR-NTD).
Applications will be evaluated based on the following:
- Well-formulated research question that addresses the theme of the call
- Whether the proposed research is nested within national NTD programs
- Collaboration between national and international research teams
- Scientific merit of the research methods
- Plan for knowledge translation
- Value for money
Maximum duration of the project: All research activities must be concluded by 31 March 2021.
Submissions are made through a web form: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/5aaa0d99ee544674af92e5726ce63db6
Deadline for submission: Midnight EST on Monday, December 31, 2019
 World Health Organization. (2017). Schistosomiasis: WHO reports substantial treatment progress for school-age children. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/news/WHO_schistosomiasis_reports_substantial_treatment_progress_sac/en/