Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative was founded in 2002. It works in sub-Saharan Africa to supply drugs and health education to protect against schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and other Neglected Tropical Diseases caused by intestinal worms.

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How it works

  • SCI conducts surveys of countries and constructs “risk-maps” which show predicted infection levels.
  • Using this data it is able to target treatment at areas where it is most needed and to calculate the drugs, equipment and staff necessary.
  • It procures drugs like praziquantel and albendazole from the World Health Organisation, and assists and supports local health authorities to distribute the drugs to schools.
  • At the same time, it supports intensive health education in schools and communities. It supports research to evaluate the impact of its interventions, and makes its results available to all.

Why we recommend it

SCI is one of a very few charities which focus exclusively on Neglected Tropical Diseases. NTDs are so-called because treatment is cheap and effective, but chronically underfunded due to lack of publicity (and therefore donations).

It has a strong track record, and its cost-effectiveness is so high that it has been designated a “best buy” in public health by the World Health Organisation. The cost per treatment is around $1.23.

It is staffed largely by academics who are experts in the field, and it uses its impact surveys and detailed self-evaluations to learn and improve its methods. With further donations it will extend its operations, including to new countries like Zimbabwe.

Case study: Distribution in Butiaba, Uganda

  • Uganda has long had a serious problem with schistosomiasis. Along with persistent diarrhoea, those inflicted suffer severe liver and spleen disease. This leads to serious bleeding through the mouth and nose, and sometimes death.
  • The village of Butiaba was one community devastated by the disease, which was a leading cause of hospital deaths in the area.
  • In 2003 SCI began providing the drugs and logistics for a mass treatment campaign for all communities at risk in the country, along with intensive health education.
  • At the same time it supported research to evaluate the impact of its activities, considering a cohort in Butiaba in 2003 and again in 2010.
  • The results showed a marked reduction in both the incidence and severity of liver disease, and many people making full recoveries.

Read more about SCI’s distribution program in Uganda. Read the story of one woman and her family.

Further information and donations

For further information, visit SCI’s website or GiveWell’s detailed report into their effectiveness. We also have more in depth information about Neglected Tropical Diseases. We've also recently written an extensive an extensive update on SCI's effectiveness.