The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) was established in 2002 to bring treatments for schistosomiasis to the poorest populations in Africa. Also known as bilharzia or snail fever, schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that lives and breeds in the blood vessels of humans. The female worm lays eggs throughout her life, which is normally three to five years.
The worms cause malnutrition and anaemia, but the eggs lead to blood in the urine and stool, plus serious longer-term consequences to the bladder wall and the liver. Praziquantel, a medicine taken as a tablet, kills adult worms in the body.
Over the last 11 years, SCI has assisted ministries of health and education in 16 countries to map the distribution of the disease and offer treatments to people infected, especially school-aged children.
The coverage has been wide, reaching East Africa (Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia), Central Africa (Burundi and Rwanda) and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, and Niger). Outside of Africa, SCI has assisted a World Bank funded project in Yemen.
This month, the total number of treatments they have delivered has passed 100 million.
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