- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany supplies around 34 million tablets this year to fight schistosomiasis in the west African country
Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2016 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, announced today that the largest single delivery of praziquantel tablets in the history our Praziquantel Donation Program recently arrived in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The west African country has received around 34 million tablets for mass distribution to school children. With this, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has donated more tablets to a single country than it did to the entire continent in 2012 (27 million). Today in Geneva, Nigeria's Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, expressed his country's thanks to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their joint efforts in the fight against the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis. Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, met the minister on the occasion of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of WHO, in Geneva. The participants included Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, as well as WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Ren Minghui.
“We want to eliminate the insidious worm disease and give children the opportunity to participate in the economic development of their home countries. Our donation of 34 million tablets to WHO for Nigeria – enough to treat 13.6 million school children – shows that we are on the right track. However, millions of children still suffer from schistosomiasis. And we know that we alone cannot solve the problem with our tablets,” said Oschmann. In Africa, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is supporting educational and awareness programs, researching schistosomiasis therapies for very young children and cooperating with partners in the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, among other things. “Furthermore, in the future we will collaborate even more closely with our partners to finally eliminate schistosomiasis,” Oschmann continued.
“With more than 235 million people infected, schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent tropical diseases in Africa. The worm disease is widespread in all regions of Nigeria, above all among children. We are therefore grateful for every sustained initiative that supports us in fighting schistosomiasis,” said Adewole. Admasu added, “Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s commitment not only helps children who are ill – it also relieves the public healthcare systems of the affected countries.”
Minghui continued, “Medicine donations such as this are essential to the fight against neglected tropical diseases. If we are to meet the ambitious sustainable development goals, we need the strong engagement of the private sector, sectors outside health and all development partners.”
As part of its responsibility for society and within Health, one of its corporate responsibility strategic spheres of activity, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is supporting WHO in the fight against the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. Praziquantel is well tolerated and the most effective treatment to date for schistosomiasis. Since 2007, it has been used to treat more than 74 million patients, primarily school children. To this end, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has donated over 340 million tablets to WHO.
According to WHO, Nigeria is the world’s most endemic country for schistosomiasis. It is estimated that around 37% of the overall population (64.1 million people) requires treatment. Nigeria has been participating in the Praziquantel Donation Program since 2008. To date, through WHO Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has donated nearly 105 million tablets to Nigeria, making it the main beneficiary country of the donation program. In total, nearly 20 million Nigerian patients have been treated to date, primarily school children.