Background: The Regional Network for Asian Schistosomiasis and other Helminth Zoonoses (RNAS+) launched in 1998, has close partnerships with countries where schistosomiasis and other helminthiasis are endemic. RNAS+ has provided an ideal regional platform for experts involved in policy-making, control, and research of parasitic diseases in Asian countries. China, one of the initiating countries, has provided significant technical and financial support to the regional network. Although Chinese institutions provided great technical and resource support toward the RNAS+ development along with other member countries, its role and Chinese scientists or institutions’ contributions have not been evaluated systematically. This study assessed the Chinese contributions in the support of RNAS+ development.
Methods: An assessment research framework was planned to evaluate China’s contribution to RNAS+ based on four aspects, including capacity building, funding support, coordination, and cooperation. An anonymous web-based questionnaire was designed to acquire basic information of the respondents, China’s contributions, challenges, and recommendations for RNAS+ development. Each participant scored from 0 to 10 to assess China’s contribution: “0” no contribution, and “10” 100% contribution. Participants who included their e-mail address in the 2017 - 2019 RNAS+ annual workshops were invited to participate the assessment.
Results: Of 71 participants enrolled, 41 responded to the survey, 37 (37/41, 90.2%) of whom were from RNAS+ member countries while the remaining 4 (4/41, 9.8%) were international observers. Most respondents (34/41, 82.93%) are familiar with RNAS+. Respondents reported that China’s contributions were mainly in improving of capacity building, providing funding support, responsible of the coordination, and joint application of the cooperation programmes in the development of RNAS+. The average scores of China’s contributions in the above four fields were 8.92, 8.64, 8.75, and 8.67, respectively, with an overall assessment score of 8.81. The challenges of RNAS+ include the lack of sustainable funding and skills, and most participants indicated their continual need of China’s support.
Conclusions This survey showed that China plays an important role in the development of RNAS+. This network-type organization for disease control and research can yet be regarded as a great potential pattern for China to enhance regional cooperation. These findings can be used to promote future cooperation between China and other RNAS+ member countries.