Toward integrated opisthorchiasis control in northeast Thailand: The Lawaproject
Human liver ﬂuke, Opisthorchis viverrini, a food-borne trematode is a signiﬁcant public health problem in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand. Despite a long history of control programmes in Thailand and a nationwide reduction, O. viverrini infection prevalence remains high in the northeastern provinces. There-fore, a new strategy for controlling the liver ﬂuke infection using the EcoHealth/One Health approach was introduced into the Lawa Lake area in Khon Kaen province where the liver ﬂuke is endemic. A programme has been carried using anthelminthic treatment, novel intensive health education methods both in the communities and in schools, ecosystem monitoring and active community participation. As a result, the infection rate in the more than 10 villages surrounding the lake has declined to approximate one third of the average of 50% as estimated by a baseline survey. Strikingly, the Cyprinoid ﬁsh species in the lake, which are the intermediate host, now showed less than 1% prevalence compared to a maximum of 70%at baseline. This liver ﬂuke control programme, named “Lawa model,” is now recognised nationally and internationally, and being expanding to other parts of Thailand and neighbouring Mekong countries. Challenges to O. viverrini disease control, and lessons learned in developing an integrative control programme using a community-based, ecosystem approach, and scaling-up regionally based on Lawa as a model are described.