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Grant of 20 million to establish the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

Imperial College London today announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given a grant of $30 million (20 million) to establish the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), a partnership at Imperial College London including the foundation, the World Health Organization and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that leads to chronic ill-health and affects more than 200 million people in developing countries. Approximately 600 million people are at risk of contracting schistosomiasis because they live in tropical regions where water supply and sanitation are inadequate or non-existent.

The primary goals of the SCI are to identify the most heavily infected regions in at least four African countries, provide health education to the people in those regions, treat victims of schistosomiasis and monitor the impact of the treatment program. By demonstrating that more effective control of schistosomiasis can be achieved in the selected countries, the initiative will provide a model that can be emulated in other countries affected by this disease.

The SCI will develop local and international partnerships to improve training and treatment delivery, and to assist other African nations in the development of national control plans and research programs. The SCI will also work with existing organizations to improve the delivery of the treatment. For example, it will add an annual drug treatment to the food deliveries provided by the World Food Program, an organization that reaches several million children.

Dr Alan Fenwick, Director of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, comments: "The misery and ill health caused by schistosomiasis is so unnecessary. There is a drug, praziquantel, that is safe, effective, and reasonably priced. The challenge now is to deliver this treatment to places like sub-Saharan Africa where the drug has never been available. This grant will help us make that possibl
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Contact: Tony Stephenson
at.stephenson@ic.ac.uk
44-20-7594-6712
Imperial College London
17-Jul-2002


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