Sightsavers’s Deworming Program
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Sightsavers works in Africa to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases such as schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths (intestinal worms). These conditions, caused by parasitic and bacterial infections, are painful and poverty-trapping: they can affect a child’s nutritional intake.
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The World Health Organization estimates that 206 million people have schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion have soil transmitted helminths (intestinal worms). These diseases affects the world’s poorest, most marginalized, and most remote communities, particularly children. 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 heath intervention extremely cost effective. The drug treatments are donated for free by pharmaceutical companies and are delivered by trained teachers or trained community volunteers.
In response, Sightsavers’ GiveWell funded projects primarily seek to reach children. So far, we have supported the distribution of over 5.6 million deworming treatments to 4.6 million school aged children across four countries in Africa.
In 2018, following more detailed monitoring of our deworming work and a 50% increase in its estimate of Sightsavers’ cost-effectiveness, GiveWell continued to recommend us for deworming’s “strong track record and excellent cost-effectiveness” and our standout record of transparency. GiveWell has recommended a new grant to scale up our 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 $0.5 per child (excluding the value of free drug donations from pharmaceutical companies), making this one of the most cost-effective health interventions globally.