Please note this is the announcement for the 2021 workshop on female genital schistosomiasis (FGS). Please express your interest to be informed the next time this workshop will be offered.

Workshop: Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS)

Learn about one of the most neglected sexual and reproductive health issues in sub-Saharan Africa

Bridges to Development in partnership with the Geneva Learning Foundation invites applications for the Scholar Level 1 Workshop for Improved Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS).


We are not currently receiving applications but you are encouraged to express your interest.

Who should apply?

You are encouraged to apply if:

  • You are a health professional working in a clinical setting who performs pelvic exams in a schistosomiasis-endemic country, e.g., you are a medical doctor, obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN), physician, nurse practitioner, or midwife;
  • You are a health professional who provides care, supports, or refers women and girls in a schistosomiasis-endemic country but do not perform pelvic exams as part of your work.

You do not need to have prior experience with FGS in order to participate in this workshop.

Health professionals from Ghana and Madagascar are especially encouraged to apply.

Participation of health professionals from these two countries will be a priority for this workshop as part of the FGS Accelerated Scale Together (FAST) project.

Contributors to FGS Competencies framework

A limited number of seats may be available for health professionals who contributed to the development of the FGS Competency framework and/or from endemic countries.

Other global health professionals

Other global health professionals from developed countries need to pay an enrollment fee to participate in this workshop. Payment must be received at least 14 days before the start date of the workshop. Enrollment in the workshop cannot be deferred to a later date. If you cancel your place at any time you will not be entitled to a refund, except in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Foundation. If a refund is made, an administration fee may be charged.

How does Schistosomiasis affect an estimated 56 million women and girls?

Schistosomiasis, is a waterborne neglected tropical disease of poverty with over 450 million people living at-risk. The parasite infects both the urinary and genital track in infected individuals. The urinary signs and symptoms are most prominently recognized, with bloody urine often being the first sign of infection and most often what is described in medical training.

What is frequently not recognized is that this parasite also affects the genital track. Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), remains underreported, under- and misdiagnosed and largely untreated.

FGS has been described as the one of the most neglected sexual and reproductive health issues in sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated 56 million women and girls infected.

  • FGS most affects women and girls living in vulnerable circumstances in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Women living with FGS are at greater risk of HIV infection and poor sexual and reproductive health.
  • Yet, FGS is typically not part of standard medical training.
  • Health professionals are often not familiar with FGS, leading to misdiagnosis and improper treatment with grave implications for women’s sexual and reproductive health.

The suffering of women and girls due to FGS can be reduced and even avoided.

Whether you are a health professional working in a schistosomiasis endemic country in sub-Saharan Africa or a global health professional concerned about women’s health, you can make a difference.

This workshop will be a novel, online training, the first of its kind offered to health professionals for FGS that will use the Foundation’s unique peer learning methodology. It will:

  • offer state-of-the art expertise from some of the world’s most experienced FGS practitioners, using an evidence-based package of interventions to help you learn with and from your peers;
  • help you integrate FGS into your practice by improving your ability to assess risk factors, prevent, diagnose, and manage FGS;
  • encourage you to consider why and how you should advocate for action to reduce the suffering of women and girls due to FGS.

What is Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS)?

Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms, that can take two main forms: intestinal or urogenital. If left untreated, the urogenital form can lead to female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) in women and girls. Symptoms of FGS include vaginal discharge, pelvic, pain and pain with intercourse and can lead to severe reproductive health complications, such as sub-or infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

Diagnosis of FGS relies on visual clinical examination with colposcopy by trained personnel. Even when FGS cases are suspected and referred, lack of awareness and knowledge frequently result in misdiagnosis and improper treatment.

Lack of access to diagnostic services means not all women and girls with FGS will be able to seek diagnosis and care in a center that offers colposcopy. In these cases, understanding the symptoms and risk factors can greatly improve appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

It is essential to increase detection and proper treatment of FGS so women and girls no longer have to suffer the consequences of misdiagnosis and improper treatment.

What you will learn

Each participant will:

  • Develop an action plan to integrate FGS in their practice and to establish and maintain a culture of FGS awareness in their context; and
  • Support fellow participants who will develop an action plan in their context.

If you are a health professional who performs pelvic exams, this workshop will help you:

  • recognize FGS risk factors and symptoms;
  • differentiate FGS from other diseases with similar symptoms such as sexually transmitted infections or cervical cancer; and
  • practice how to diagnose, treat, and record FGS based on best global guidance.

If you are a health professional who does not perform pelvic exams, this workshop will help you:

  • recognize FGS risk factors and symptoms;
  • differentiate FGS from other diseases with similar symptoms such as sexually transmitted infections or cervical cancer;
  • practice identifying women and girls at risk of FGS; and
  • practice referring women and girls at risk of FGS for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The Female Genital Schistosomiasis Competency Framework

This workshop is aligned with the Female Genital Schistosomiasis Competency Framework 

  • This framework provides a consensus view on what health professionals need to be able to know and do to diagnose, treat, and prevent FGS.
  • It establishes the competencies that are required to be considered trained in FGS at various levels in the health system in endemic settings.
  • It was developed through a virtual interactive workshop conducted by the Bridges to Development and The Geneva Learning Foundation in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD).

Key resources for this workshop

Participants are expected to be familiar with the two key resources for this workshop:

  1. The Female Genital Schistosomiasis Competency framework.
  2. Female Genital Schistosomiasis: A Pocket Atlas for Clinical Health-care Professionals. This atlas has been developed by WHO as a visual aid to raise awareness of FGS and to facilitate clinical diagnosis by clinical health-care professionals working in low-resource settings, especially in rural areas where schistosomiasis is endemic.

Workshop schedule

The workshop combines both live group discussions and offline individual activities. Time required for the individual activities are indicative. 

  • Session 1 (3 hours live group discussion): Tuesday 4 May 2021, 16h-19h Geneva time. Understand FGS and learn how to prevent, identify, diagnose, treat, and manage FGS through real-world scenarios. 3 hours of live group discussion required.
  • Session 2 (3 hours live group discussion): Wednesday 5 May 2021, 16h-19h Geneva timeGroup problem-solve real-world FGS challenges identified by participants through the Scholar methodology developed by the Geneva Learning Foundation. 3 hours of live group discussion required.
  • Session 3 (3 hours minimum): 6-7 May 2021 (Thursday and Friday). Draft and submit your FGS action plan to improve FGS identification, diagnosis, treatment, referral and prevention in your context. This is an offline individual activity, with an optional one-hour live peer support session.
  • Session 4 (3 hours minimum): Monday 10 May 2021. Conduct structured peer review to give feedback for other participants' FGS action plans and to receive feedback for your own action plan. This is an offline individual activity, with an optional one-hour live peer support session.
  • Session 5 (2 hours): Tuesday 11 May 2021, 16h-18h Geneva time. Presentation by participants of FGS action plans with group discussion and feedback. Two hours of live group discussion required.

The detailed workshop programme will be sent to selected participants before the start of the workshop. Support and tutoring will be provided before and during the workshop.

What you will gain

  1. Develop the knowledge and mindsets to improve FGS diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in your context.
  2. Compare and share best practices with peers and global experts to improve FGS diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
  3. Learn from your peers through both formal and informal dialogue as well as giving and receiving feedback.
  4. Connect with a national and global community committed to improving FGS diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
  5. Earn a certificate of participation to demonstrate your learning and practice.
  6. Develop your digital skills to collaborate and learn remotely.


Upon successful completion of the workshop and following validation of your final project by the course team and subject matter experts, you will receive a certificate of completion. Certificate holders agree to show upon request a portfolio of their work that includes the project(s) produced.

Technical requirements

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they are able to meet the following requirements.

  • Information technology: You will need to access web-based digital platforms, watch or download videos, download and upload documents, and use Zoom for live sessions. Participants need to have access to a reliable Internet connection and a standards-based browser less than two years old (Firefox, Safari, or Chrome). Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge users will be asked to use a standards-based browser for the course. Mobile-only users will need to use Mobile Chrome in desktop mode when working on their course projects.
  • Internet access: Specific guidance will be provided to those who have bandwidth limitations, intermittent access, or may suffer from disruption of their connection to the Internet.
  • Language: The workshop is being offered on separate dates in French and in English. Participants are encouraged to schedule extra time if they are not fully proficient writing in the workshop language.

Confidentiality and data protection

This initiative uses the Privacy by Design approach. This means that we think of privacy implication before offering a course, we don’t ask for information we don't need, and we protect the information you share. We take pride in treating our learners’ privacy the way we would like to be treated, as individuals. We will treat your information with respect.

Honor code

The Geneva Learning Foundation’s Scholar communities are devoted to learning and the creation of knowledge. We view integrity as the basis for meaningful collaboration. We thus hold honesty – in the representation of our work and in our interactions – as the foundation of our community.

Members of each Scholar community commit themselves to producing course work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on assignments or projects, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of immunization.

Scholar course participants are required to adhere to a strict Honor Code. Violation of the Honor Code may result in removal from the course, loss of certification (including prior Scholar certificates), and notification of your employer.

Research and evaluation

The Geneva Learning Foundation and its partners may review projects developed by Scholars and may consider some of them for use in their communication, advocacy and training effort. You will be asked for consent in your application.

Learners may also be invited to participate in research and evaluation by the Geneva Learning Foundation and its partners. Participation in this research is completely voluntary, and you may stop taking part at any time. In cases where learners do not consent, no learner data will be collected. Participation or non-participation will have no effect on assessment of your performance in the course or your present or future relationship with the organizations involved.

About the Scholar package

  • The Geneva Learning Foundation’s Scholar Approach is a state-of-the-art evidence-based package for capability development required to lead complex change.
  • The Scholar Approach has already been shown to not only enhance competencies but also to foster collaborative implementation of transformative projects that begin as course work and end with impact.
  • The World Health organization has used the Scholar Approach since 2016 to support country-level action planning and capability development using WHO guidelines to improve immunization outcomes. More than 30 global courses have already been implemented.

About the FAST package

The FGS Accelerated Scale Together (FAST) package creates a pathway to scale for a combination of proven interventions that address the burden of FGS in girls and women in Madagascar and Ghana. With four main components: diagnosis and treatment through integrated services, training of health personnel, awareness and prevention of new cases, the FAST Package covers the life course of a woman, from prevention of new schistosomiasis infections to improved diagnosis of FGS. With support from Grand Challenges Canada and the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (through its Global Health Institute), the FAST Package combines a unique partnership of global and national actors to fund and support the project activities. This workshop is part of the FAST package component on training of health personnel.

Donors (2021)

Grand Challenges Canada
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Partners (2021)

  • University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana
  • Association K'OLO VANONA, Madagascar
  • Ghana Health Service - NTD programme
  • Ministry of Health Madagascar - NTD programme
  • Bruyère Research Institute, Canada
  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative Foundation, UK

About The Geneva Learning Foundation

The Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF) is a Swiss, non-profit, private foundation that works to connect learning leaders to research, invent, and trial breakthrough approaches for new learning, talent and leadership as a way of shaping humanity and society for the better.