What has been going on?

The summit was a historic opportunity for governments, scientific experts, partner companies, and community champions to show how malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) programs unlock the potential to create a safer world for all, everywhere. On 23rd of June world leaders and their partners came together in Kigali, Rwanda, to demonstrate their commitments, to end neglected tropical diseases that cause suffering and misery to billions of people.
In a joint video statement together with CEOs from global pharmaceutical companies our Healthcare CEO and member of the Executive Board, Peter Guenter, re-confirm our commitment to fight against the NTD schistosomiasis until elimination.

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Working closely with our partners, we set our sights on the NTD schistosomiasis 14 years ago – and our efforts are paying off: According to new data the prevalence among school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased by nearly 60% between 2000 and 2019. That's the result of a study by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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A new treatment option for schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children completed the pivotal clinical Phase III. The new child-friendly tablet has been developed by the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, a public-private partnership led by our Global Health Institute.
[© SCI Foundation/ Uganda]

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Pre-clinical researchers in the field of schistosomiasis applied to our fast-funding program - the Schistosomiasis Research Grant. This initiative catalyzes research in an open innovation spirit.

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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has entered into a contract manufacturing agreement with Universal Corporation Ltd., Nairobi, Kenya, a subsidiary of Strides Pharma Science Limited, India, for the large-scale production of a new pediatric medication once it will be registered. The drug is needed to treat schistosomiasis in children below the age of six. The agreement with Universal includes building up extensive production capacities in Nairobi, Kenya for future provision of the treatment in endemic African countries. The new medication has been developed by the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, led by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

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Annually, an estimated 4.3 million people in Rwanda require preventive treatment for schistosomiasis. To bolster Rwanda’s plan to end schistosomiasis by 2024, we will provide Rwanda, in partnership with The END Fund, with 8 million additional tablets of the standard medication for the treatment of schistosomiasis per year. The tablets are needed for treating adults endangered by schistosomiasis and will complement our annual donation for the treatment of school-aged children. The END Fund has been a key partner for the Rwandan national strategic plan for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the past and continues to do so through its Deworming Innovation Fund. [© The END Fund/Gabriel Dusabe]

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As part of our efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis in Africa, we have been partnering with the NALA Foundation for several years now. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, NALA immediately mobilized all its resources on the ground to strengthen the local health system. To support their efforts, we donated 90,000 FFP2-masks, which were distributed to community health workers and schools.

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The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium is an international public-private partnership dedicated to the development of a pediatric formulation to treat schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children. The program is in Phase III, with a pivotal trial to generate confirmatory data for registration. In early 2021, the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium celebrated the official launch of its ADOPT program, through which it is identifying approaches to ensure wide acceptance and equitable access.

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Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) are urgently needed to simplify testing and guide deployment of treatment campaigns in community settings in Africa. We are a member of a global health strategic partnership that is developing and validating an innovative RDT for schistosomiasis.

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While prevention and control programs have been rolled out in Kenya – including the distribution of medicine – there are still too many people unaware of how to prevent schistosomiasis. During the online workshop, we developed together with Kenyan community leaders and storytellers innovative communication solutions that can creatively improve awareness and access to information. Besides hosting the lab, we are providing seed funding to support the implementation of the best solution.

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Every year on January 30th is World NTD Day! Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than 1 billion people in the poorest and most marginalized communities worldwide with devastating health, social and economic consequences. World NTD Day marks an annual opportunity to mobilize together with more than 230 partners greater attention and to celebrate hard-earned progress.
Specially on World NTD Day we want to showcase our commitment to fight against schistosomiasis. Catch a glimpse of our engagement!

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We have renewed our partnership with the NALA Foundation – which stands for Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Advocacy, Learning, Action – and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia until 2023 to fight the NTD Schistosomiasis in south-western Ethiopia. Through this project, we will continue to expand our efforts to reach more than 170,000 school-age children in six districts with the highest prevalence of schistosomiasis. Additionally, we will seek to reach 50,000 community members in 8,000 households.

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We have entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. (company of Johnson and Johnson) to develop an artificial intelligence-based diagnostic tool to improve the detection of the Neglected Tropical Diseases schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis.

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Continued collaboration
In early July 2019, we renewed our longstanding collaboration with the World Health Organization to fight schistosomiasis. Chair of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Belén Garijo and the WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus signed the third memorandum of understanding. Together we are committed to #MakingSchistory!

A photo story from rural Ethiopia
On the occasion of the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva we hosted an exhibition highlighting on Neglected Tropical Diseases, particularly schistosomiasis. The photos tell the personal story of the small boy Manyazewal and how the efforts of the global schistosomiasis community are helping millions of children like him to get back to school. In October 2019 the exhibition was shown in our headquarter in Darmstadt and will start to travel in 2020 and beyond.

Celebrating ten years of donating tablets to WHO for African countries. To mark the milestone moment in the history of schistosomiasis –– a giant worm was placed on Lake Geneva in 2017. The idea behind the worm was to attract global attention to the disease. Since then the worm appeared on many different occasions. Stay tuned where it appears next.

  • What is Schistosomiasis?

    Schistosomiasis is a water-borne tropical disease caused by parasitic worms. Click below to learn more about it.
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  • Living our Commitment

    More than a decade ago we committed ourselves to the fight against schistosomiasis. Learn more about our efforts to eliminate the disease.
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  • R&D for schistosomiasis

    We drive and implement R&D programs for innovative drugs, highly sensitive diagnostics, new technologies for safe water access and for controlling transmission of the disease.
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