By Alan Fenwick OBE, Director of Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
November and December were exciting months for SCI.
We have made our case for the increased funding which will be necessary over the next few years to leverage the 250 million tablets of praziquantel being donated by Merck KGaA from 2016. These tablets are enough to treat over 100 million children per year in Africa and the most we have ever achieved so far is 40 million per year. We must mobilise funding, advocate with governments, and be ready to go within a year.
SCI has strengthened its accountability by hiring a new Finance Director and a new “Value for Money” Officer to ensure quality feedback to our donors.
The recent visit to the SCI offices by a GiveWell team to evaluate SCI and the subsequent recommendation of SCI as a top charity has certainly helped to kick start our fundraising campaign, as Good Ventures made a donation of $3 million on the strength of the GiveWell report. We have also been “adopted” by the US company Maxmind who have sent funding to allow us to expand our coverage in Ethiopia. We are most grateful.
Looking back over 2014, we reflect on the new “Global Schistosomiasis Alliance,” which was launched on 13th December in Addis Ababa. Lorenzo Savioli (ex-WHO), David Molyneux (CNTD Liverpool) and I have pledged to make this alliance a success, and make Merck KGaA proud of their donation through the World Health Organisation of so many praziquantel tablets. Together we will improve the lives of children in rural Africa and protect them from long term suffering.
Please take a look at our December 2014 newsletter for updates on our many in-country activity and treatment support register. Here are just a few examples:
- In Burundi, the entire country was remapped to determine the remaining pockets of schistosomiasis and STH infection. A plan for elimination of schistosomiasis is being drawn up.
- In Cote d’Ivoire, 3.5 million school aged children (SAC) in 47 districts received treatment in November/December 2014.
- In Tanzania, six regions (Mara, Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Kigoma, Simiyu) that have never received treatment are scheduled to receive MDA in 2015.