The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative: doing fantastic work in Africa
Today I would like to spotlight an organization that are doing some real important and necessary work in sub-Sahara Africa battling some of the most debilitating infectious diseases known. Let’s look at the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI).
With 500 million people in Africa alone infected with two or more of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) (ascariasis, hookworm infection, trichuriasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma) at any one time, one would think that more health officials worldwide would be screaming “crisis”.
And especially with treatments for these diseases costing literally pocket change to treat one person per year, this is a fight worth fighting. Fortunately there are organizations like the SCI.
Based out of the Imperial College London in the UK, the SCI has been working with governments from some of the most affected African nations to set up or expand disease control programs within these countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).
A major part of the SCI’s mission is mass drug administration, which can often treat multiple infections simultaneously, at an extremely low cost. The latest numbers offered by the SCI show that by 2007, 40 million doses of the anti-parasitic drug, praziquantel, to treat schistosomiasis were delivered to those in need. Other drugs like albendazole, which is used to treat a number of intestinal worms, have also been distributed in large quantities to those in need.