The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 206 million people have schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion have soil-transmitted helminthiasis (intestinal worms). These diseases affect the world’s poorest, most marginalized, and most remote communities, particularly the children in them. There is a strong correlation between a high intensity of worm infection and children’s school attendance, achievement, and future ability to earn a living.
These worm infections cause short-term symptoms such as acute stomach pain, child developmental issues including stunted growth, and serious long-term organ damage. The high impact on children’s health, relative to the low cost of providing treatment, makes this health intervention extremely cost effective.
In response, Sightsavers’ GiveWell-recommended deworming projects primarily seek to reach children. So far, these projects have supported the distribution of over 5.6 million deworming treatments to 4.6 million school-aged children across four African countries. The drug treatments are donated for free by pharmaceutical companies, and they are delivered by trained teachers or trained community volunteers.
In 2018, following more detailed monitoring of Sightsavers’ deworming work and a 50% increase in its estimate of this work’s cost effectiveness, GiveWell continued to recommend this deworming work for a “strong track record and excellent cost effectiveness,” and for its “standout record of transparency.” GiveWell has recommended a new grant to scale up Sightsavers’ deworming work in sub-Saharan Africa.
By supporting deworming you are improving the health and life chances of children in some of the world’s poorest regions. The cost of treatment in most areas is under $0.50 USD per child (excluding the value of free drug donations from pharmaceutical companies), making this one of the most cost-effective health interventions globally.