Unlimit Health

Unlimit Health works with Ministries of Health and Education in sub-Saharan African countries to support programs controlling and eliminating two types of parasitic worm infections: schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis. The majority of programs treat school-aged children, but can also include at risk adults. 

Their annual demonstrated impact includes:

  • Developing a new strategy for sustainable impact and disease elimination, including water and sanitation-focused approaches to reducing disease transmission, which complements extensive treatment programs.
  • Testing an approach to community-driven planning of environmental and behavioral action to reduce the risk of transmission of schistosomiasis.

Key Strengths: Scale, Durability, Systems strengthening

Multidimensional Poverty Index Indicators: Child mortality

Other Key Outcomes: Child development, Disease burden 

Recent Expense Budget: US$11,000,000

Year Founded: 2002

treatments delivered/supported
average cost per annual treatment

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The problem: intestinal worms and parasites

Schistosomiasis (shis-toe-so-my-a-sis) and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) are both what the World Health Organization calls “neglected tropical diseases,” which affect the poorest and most marginalized communities in the world. Schistosomiasis is carried by freshwater snails and transmitted through contaminated water during everyday activities, such as bathing, fishing, and washing clothes in lakes, rivers, or ponds. STH is caused by a group of intestinal parasites, and is transmitted through soil contaminated with human feces.

The World Health Organization estimates that 206 million people are affected by schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion are infected with STH [1] [2]. Infection with these parasites can result in anemia, blood in urine, abdominal pain, and genital discomfort. These symptoms can lead to impaired cognitive development and reduced school attendance; longer-term effects include stunted growth, internal organ damage (such as liver fibrosis), increased risk of HIV infection, and bladder cancer.

The World Health Organization estimates that 206 million people are affected by schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion are infected with STH.

The solution: cost-effective school deworming programs

Mass deworming programs — typically run by national governments — provide those living in at-risk communities the medication needed to treat STH and schistosomiasis infections. These programs have a strong track record of success and are highly cost-effective, generally at around 43 cents per child per year. 

How Unlimit Health works

Unlimit Health (formerly SCI Foundation) does not have country offices or local staff. Rather, they work directly with government programs to help deliver services through existing health care systems. By providing technical support, Unlimit Health can remain agile and responsive, and focus on building capacity and maximizing efficiency. Plus, working in partnership increases their organizational cost effectiveness, while reducing duplicative efforts.

What makes Unlimit Health (formerly SCI Foundation) so effective


Pharmaceutical companies donate the majority of treatment medicines. The average cost per treatment is only US$0.43. 

Designed for scale

Unlimit Health has supported the delivery of over 300 million treatments for schistosomiasis and STH since it was founded in 2002.

Compounding impact

In Kenya, one research study found that treating schistosomiasis and STH increased school attendance by up to 25%, led to improved academic performance, and in the long term, led to better health, better jobs, and 21–29% increased earning.  This evidence is only from one study from a context where worm intensity was unusually high, but it offers the possibility that deworming could have such longer term impacts. [3] [4]

Unlimit Health’s accountability

Unlimit Health is a model of nonprofit transparency, publishing information and reports about their support of treatment programs.

They combine the best of public and private healthcare, partnering with pharmaceutical companies, national governments, and local health authorities to support the design and implementation of treatment programs. They have previously been recommended by rigorous charity evaluator GiveWell, and have received an A or A+ rating from the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). [5]