The GSA Blog

Season's Greeting and a Happy New Year!

GSA End of Year Letter
Dear Partners,
This has been an exciting year for the GSA. Together with all our partners we have been working hard to highlight both the progress made and the challenges that still remain for the control and elimination of schistosomiasis. The GSA's new management team is continuing to strengthen the network and reach of the GSA, harnessing the collaborations we established last year as well as building new ones. In this letter we share with you some of the highlights of this year and take the opportunity to wish you a festive end of year and joyous new year!

Schistosomiasis in the spotlight
At the Geneva NTD Summit the GSA highlighted the importance of schistosomiasis and drove the schistosomiasis agenda: the appearance of “Wormzilla” on Lake Geneva raised awareness of schistosomiasis and the GSA ran a schisto-specific session (presentations available here) and a joint session with the STH Coalition. In 2017 we published a schistosomiasis special edition in Infectious Diseases of Poverty, presented in a number of key conferences and organised 4 GSA specific meetings bringing together schistosomiasis experts from across the globe. In order to keep everyone informed and included we have shared the presentations and/or meeting reports on the resources page of our website.

A growing network to stop schistosomiasis
In June this year we published a special report from The People Making Schistory, showcasing personal stories from researchers, programme managers, donors and community workers. Our social media network has gone from strength to strength with an ever growing number of followers on Twitter and Facebook. For more news we invite you to read our newsletter which you can access by clicking here and our latest blog post. We take great pride in sharing and promoting the wonderful work of all our partners so if you have news items to share please do get in touch! We look forward to fighting the good fight with you all next year. Together let us #beatschisto
As 2017 draws to a close we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your collaborative work and look forward to working with you in 2018!
With warmest regards for the festive season from the GSA team; David Rollinson, Johannes Waltz and Anouk Gouvras
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Uniting to Combat 5th Progress Report

Reporting on the progress in the control and elimination of NTDs since the landmark 2012 London Declaration, the report highlights some of the key achievements and reminds us to take stock of how far we have come.

In London in 2012, pharmaceutical companies, donors, NTD-affected countries and NGOs signed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (more here), recognising that no one organization alone can eliminate NTDs but by committing to work together the control, elimination or potential eradication of 10 diseases by 2020 is feasible. Uniting to Combat NTDs (UTC website here) is a collective of the dedicated partners whose aim is to strengthen advocacy and accountability in achieving these overarching goals. Every year they release a report measuring the progress made on these 10 diseases against the targets of control and/or elimination by 2020. Today UTC released their 5th progress report (click here).

Some of the highlights of the report are:

Treatments: Thanks to the huge investments and donations from the pharmaceutical industry and through private-public partnerships a total of 1.8 billion treatments were donated in 2016 and 2017 saw a Guinness-world record in the largest number of drugs donated in a single day. These donated drugs are the backbone of many NTD control programmes and contributed to these amazing achievements:

  • One billion people treated for at least one NTD in 2016.

  • 400 million fewer people require preventative chemotherapy for NTDs compared to 2012.

NTDs: The report documents some fantastic highlights from individual NTDs:

  • Trachoma eliminated in 5 countries since 2012, including Morocco in 2016 and Mexico in 2017.

  • In 2017 lymphatic filariasis was eliminated in in 4 countries including Togo, the first sub-Saharan African country.

  • Onchocerciasis has been eliminated in 4 countries since 2012.

Funding: This year saw some fantastic news regarding funding and investments in NTD control!

At the NTD summit in April 2017, $812million was pledged by donors: $450million over 5 years from the UK government DFID, 27million from the Belgium government and $335 million form the Gates foundation.  USAID has been donating $100million per year over a 4 year period.  In addition, a $100 million fund has been set up by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the elimination of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis and $4million from the Kuwait Fund to support WHO AFRO ESPEN (Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases).

Schistosomiasis progress and challenges

Focusing on our favourite disease, whilst schistosomiasis remains prevalent with challenges to overcome, there have been considerable achievements made that give us cause to celebrate!

1. The WHO reports considerable progress in the percentage coverage of school-aged children reached, over 70million of them were treated for schistosomiasis in 2016. The WHO also highlighted the need to reach girls and women of reproductive-age to prevent them from developing Female Genital Schistosomiasis, a dangerous pathological manifestation of the disease that can persist even post infection and can have serious consequences (more here)!

The data show substantial progress in 2016 to reach almost 54% global coverage, with an impressive 57% coverage in the African Region due to expansion of control interventions,” said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. “The global target set in WHO’s roadmap on neglected tropical diseases is to reach at least 75% of all school-age children in endemic areas by 2020."

2. The recently published 2016 study on the Global Burden of Disease highlights that numbers of people affected by the schistosomiasis has considerably reduced since 2006! Out of all the NTDs, schistosomiasis, together with onchocerciasis, got a special mention as two diseases in the low socio-demographic group showing the largest reduction in years lived with disability (YLDs), a measurement of the burden of disease. We can be proud that we have achieved such a pronounced reduction of this disease in the poorest and most vulnerable of communities! Overall the percentage reduction in YLDs from 2006 to 2016 is between 34·6 to 31·4 and the estimated number of people infected in 2016 is between 180 and 200 million people, considerable less than the estimated 260 million people in 2006. For that we owe our sincerest thanks to the stalwarts of the schistosomiasis control world (you know who you are!) and to the many individuals, governments and NGOs that have joined the fight!

“Between 2006 and 2016, there were large drops in age-standardized rates of YLDs for malaria, HIV/AIDS, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis in the low-SDI [socio-demographic index] quintile”

(from Global Health Metrics; Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 328 diseases and injuries for 195 countries, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

3. The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium (website) has announced a joint GHIT & EDCTP funding of the Phase III clinical study on the paediatric praziquantel formulation. This excellent news means we are making great strides to attaining a suitable treatment for infants and pre-school aged children!

4. Research into integrating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as well as health education and behaviour change in schistosomiasis control strategies are being developed and tested, particularly in Ethiopia where the WISER (Water Infrastructure for Schistosomiasis Endemic Regions) is testing feasible WASH solutions, and innovative environmental indicators for schistosomiasis control and elimination. In addition the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health together with Merck KGaA and the Nala Foundation announced a partnership implementing an integrated health education, community mobilisation and treatment approach to control schistosomiasis in the Bench Maji zone in southwest Ethiopia.

5. The WHO operational manual on snail control using molluscicide was published this year and two snail control training workshops were organised, one in west Africa and one in East Africa.  Furthermore a new NNN (NTD-NGO network) working group on Integrated Vector Control has been launched to advocate the integration of vector control in diseases control programmes and fitting in with the new NNN BEST (Behaviour, Environment, Social Inclusion, Treatment) framework.

6. On the 19th of October 2016 Merck KGaA donated its 500 millionth praziquantel tablet to the WHO (more here).  The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program started in 2007 and has since treated over 100million people. Merck KGaA has committed to donating up to 250 million tablets per year to the WHO, this donation includes tablets and delivery to the endemic country and has a value of approximately US$ 23 million per year!

GSA and our partners will be rolling up our sleeves to build on these achievements, ensuring that schistosomiasis is treated, prevented and reduced globally.

Working together we will #beatschisto.

Something in the Water – the success story of our website campaign

Something in the Water – the success story of our website campaign

Something in the water ( is not your typical awareness campaign. Its trailer takes you on a thriller-like journey, showing how a beautiful lake setting and enjoyable time with friends in the water can quickly be turned into a nasty experience. The dark music underlines this even further by adding a rather eerie feeling to the trailer.

And this is exactly what makes this campaign so catchy, so different and so effective. It draws the viewer in, keeps him or her engaged. Under different circumstances viewers might quickly move on to other, seemingly more interesting or relatable topics, but not in this case. The video and design of the website ensure the viewers stay on, allowing them to learn about schistosomiasis and to realise this is nothing that can easily be ignored by simply clicking it away. In a world in which we are constantly bombarded with moving images, loud messages and endless information, it is difficult to raise awareness of a disease that seems to affect so few so far away. But Something in the water ensures that the message about schistosomiasis is spread further and reaches not only a greater number of people but also a greater variety of people.

We are very grateful to the team who created this campaign ( and are proud to be able to say that Something in the Water won six awards in 2016 and is part of the advertisement for the ISNTD Festival on the 23rd of February in London (

The following awards were won by this great campaign:

Hopefully the success of this campaign, competing against some big consumer / brand marketing teams, will spark more such activities amongst the NTD community to ensure that the people suffering from any NTD will be heard and will be helped.




The GSA gathers in China to further mission to eliminate schisto

The Research Working Group of the GSA convened for two days to agree how to apply operational research to enhance efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis

 On 14 June 2016, leading experts in the control and elimination of schistosomiasis from around the world gathered in Shanghai to advance the World Health Organization’s goal of worldwide elimination of the disease. Organised by the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA), the two-day meeting brought together health specialists to discuss such topics as new drugs, mapping the transmission of the disease and alternative control strategies.

Schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease, is one of the most devastating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in terms of public health burden and economic impact, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths per year[1]. However, the solutions to control and ultimately eliminate it are known, inexpensive, and within reach. Treatment is very effective and Merck, a founding partner of the GSA, has committed to donate up to 250 million tablets of Praziquantel annually to WHO, to treat the disease.

“We are excited about the strides we were able to make during this conference. The lessons we can learn from our co-hosts, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, given the team’s experience of eliminating schistosomiasis in China, will critically inform our collective next steps.” said Dr Lorenzo Savioli, chair of the Executive Group of the GSA.

Professor Xiao-Nong Zhou, National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, added “We were delighted to host the GSA here in China and share our insights. We are particularly interested to see how our strategies and control interventions can be directly applied to endemic countries in Africa, for example, where it is estimated that 90% of schistosomiasis sufferers live[2].”

A high-level summary of the conference presenting the status quo, current gaps in the field as well as a call to action can be found in the "Downloadable Resources" section on this website.

Further, the presentations and resulting actions of the conference will be published in a post-congress Volume of the BMC Journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty – edited by Professor Ziao-Nong Zhou.


[1] World Health Organization