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Schistosomiasis

Over 200 million people suffer from the tropical disease schistosomiasis, with more than 280,000 dying each year as a result. Together with our partners we plan to eliminate this disease once and for all.


Putting an end to Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is transmitted by flatworms. By swimming or washing laundry in contaminated water, people can contract the worm larvae, which then infest their internal organs. The infection rate is especially high among children, and even when it is not fatal, the consequences are serious. In partnership with other organizations including the WHO, we have set ourselves the goal to fully eliminate this disease.

The fight against schistosomiasis

There is a disease that is little known. Schistosomiasis claims the lives of more than 280,000 people. Yet it is one of the so-called Neglected Tropical Diseases. Not for us: Together with the WHO and other strong partners we fight to eliminate the disease once and for all.

In Africa, millions of people suffer from schistosomiasis. One of them is Jean-Baptiste.

Jean-Baptiste lives in Ambatobe, a remote rural village in Madagascar, with his mother and five siblings. The 14-year-old boy loves to play soccer and dreams of being a teacher someday. Yet he is currently unable to attend school. He suffers from abdominal pain, has bloody urine, has lost considerable weight, and is always tired. These are all symptoms of his disease, schistosomiasis.

The village Jean-Baptiste lives in has no access to clean drinking water. The only source of water is a small lake located a few kilometers away where the children bathe and play every afternoon. The region is hot and dusty which makes the water of the lake a welcome change. But it is infested with the schistosome larvae, the cause of schistosomiasis.

When a team from the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health and Education paid a visit to the village they found hundreds of schistosome eggs in Jean-Baptiste's bloody urine. Tests showed the same for many other children as well. To restore their strength and allow them to return to school, the children are treated free of charge, bringing them one step closer to realizing their dreams.

Here to help

Since 2007, we've been supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa. The most effective treatment for this disease to date is Cesol® 600, a tablet that contains the well-tolerated active ingredient known as praziquantel. It is on the WHO list of essential drugs. We produce the tablets at our plant in Mexico and also cover the transport and logistical costs involved in getting the tablets to Africa, while WHO manages, monitors, and documents their distribution at the local level.

Our donation program

500

million praziquantel tablets have been donated to the WHO for patients in Africa.

100

million patients have been treated in total, primarily school children.

We support the campaign #MakingSchistory by the Global schistosomiasis Alliance. As part of the campaign, a giant worm was released into lake Geneva to raise awareness for the disease at the summit for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

See campaign website

Up to 250 million tablets annually

We will continue our fight against schistosomiasis as long as it takes to eliminate the disease in Africa. We intend to accelerate the process and are increasing the number of tablets donated annually to up to 250 million tablets in the medium term. To review the progress of our efforts, we get together with WHO at least twice a year. At this meeting of the steering committee, we plot the course for our Praziquantel Donation Program and decide where to take it next.

Education is key

Awareness and prevention are two crucial weapons in the fight against schistosomiasis. That’s why we support an educational program at African schools that aims to educate children on the causes of the disease and help arm them against it. To this end, we are supplying schools and teachers with easy-to-understand materials for their lessons. In 2016 alone, we donated 340,500 million booklets to WHO for ten countries.

We've also helped the Uraha Foundation set up a local radio station in northern Malawi. Since 2014, Radio Dinosaur has been broadcasting in the local languages of Kyangonde and Chitumbuka. The station informs its audience about politics, local happenings and culture, as well as environmental and health issues. Among other initiatives, we are funding the production of shows that help educate people on schistosomiasis.

Research to help small children

In their current form, praziquantel tablets are only suitable for adults and children older than six. There is no treatment available for small children with schistosomiasis. But we intend to change this. Within the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, we are working on the development of a formulation of praziquantel that is safe to be used by small children. The initial studies conducted in 2015 on a suitable treatment have yielded positive results. We hope to have a market-ready drug formulation by 2019. In June 2015, the Consortium was once more awarded a prestigious research grant from the Japanese Global Health Innovation Technology Fund.

The battle can only be won together

Eliminating this insidious parasitic disease is challenging. Even though we've increased our praziquantel donation massively since 2012, the tablets do not reach all the children who need them. This is why, at the end of 2014, we launched the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance. Founding members include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, the United States Agency for International Development, and World Vision International. Hand in hand, we are working to address any remaining gaps to meeting the elimination target.

Something in the water

In 2015, the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance has rolled out a digital campaign, Something in the water, that uses a completely new approach to increase awareness of the condition. More information

Something in the water

In 2015, the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance has rolled out a digital campaign, Something in the water, that uses a completely new approach to increases awareness of the condition. More information

The fight against schistosomiasis

There is a disease that is little known. Schistosomiasis claims the lives of more than 280,000 people. Yet it is one of the so-called Neglected Tropical Diseases. Not for us: Together with the WHO and other strong partners we fight to eliminate the disease once and for all.

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