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The GSA strives for elimination

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance strives for elimination of the worm disease schistosomiasis 

London, Friday August 7, 2015: Following the recent publication of the Third Progress Report of the London Declaration, the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) is rallying support for the elimination of this vicious Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that primarily affects children in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Alliance is calling upon governments and international partners to show their support, make tangible commitments, and mobilise resources required to enable the GSA to achieve its mission in line with WHO targets.

Schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasite, is one of the most devastating 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 to WHO, to treat the disease, from 2016. So far Merck has already donated more than 290 million tablets to WHO.

“The fact that schistosomiasis progress is still lagging behind is cause for great concern, and the formation of an Alliance committed to its elimination is vital” said Dr Lorenzo Savioli, chair of the Executive Group of the GSA. Merck’s donation of Praziquantel – the largest of its kind – creates a unique moment to act to rid communities of schistosomiasis and help break the cycle of poverty associated with the disease.”

The recently published third annual progress report from Uniting to Combat NTDs – Country Leadership and Collaboration on Neglected Tropical Diseases: Third Progress Report of the London Declaration – demonstrated a need to scale up efforts in the fight against NTDs. A scorecard released alongside the report showed schistosomiasis progress is behind that of the other diseases.

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Notes to Editors

About Schistosomiasis:

What is it?

Schistosomiasis is endemic in Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi and Ghana, among other countries.

There are two major forms of the disease. Urinary schistosomiasis causes ulcers, blood in the urine and pain when urinating. Then there’s intestinal schistosomiasis, which causes progressive enlargement of the liver and spleen and damages the intestines.

Schistosomiasis also causes stunted growth, learning disabilities and can lead to anaemia, especially among children, making them weak and fatigued.

How is it contracted?

Schistosomiasis is contracted through contact with fresh water (lakes, rivers, streams and large scale irrigation schemes) that contains parasitic worms. (WHO)

Larval forms of the parasites, which are released by freshwater snails, penetrate the skin of people who come into contact with contaminated water. (WHO)

Can it be treated?

Schistosomiasis can be successfully treated with just one dose of the drug Praziquantel, once a year. Through Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programs – whereby drugs are administered to populations regardless of disease status – the cycle of schistosomiasis can be controlled.

When MDA is combined with proper sanitation, clean water and vector control, to stop re-infection, schistosomiasis could be eliminated entirely.

About the GSA:

Under the auspices of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA), leading researchers, financial donors and key players in water sanitation have grabbed this opportunity, determined to work with communities to cut the cycle of infection and eliminate schistosomiasis.

The creation of a global alliance committed to controlling and eventually eliminating schistosomiasis was originally called for by Merck in 2014, in support of the World Health Organisation’s goal of worldwide elimination. By December 2014 the first working session of the GSA took place in Addis Ababa. Now, with the recent launch of the Alliance’s website, the GSA is fully operational and striving for progress. 

About the partners:

The GSA brings together the organisations that can make the most difference in the shortest amount of time. Each member has made a profound commitment to allocating resources, expertise and support for as long as it takes to eliminate schistosomiasis.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • Merck
  • RTI International
  • Natural History Museum
  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
  • Score
  • World Vision
  • Children Without Worms
  • CDC

Ministry support from:

  • The Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia
  • The Ministry of Health Zanzibar

Media contact:

For more information about the GSA please contact Dr Johannes Waltz on +44 (0) 7969 659891 /

[1] World Health Organization