British aid protecting health to protect education
By tackling treatable diseases such as intestinal worms and less well known schistosomiasis, the UK will improve school attendance in high risk countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Niger by up to 25%.
The UK will provide 75 million treatment kits that consist of one dose of oral medicine per child in order to:
- Expand and Roll out treatment: DFID support will help ensure that within five years the serious consequences of schistosomiasis will be eliminated from Niger and Uganda. The treatment programme will expand towards national coverage in Tanzania and Zambia. And programmes will begin in 4 new countries.
- Safeguard drug distribution: In line with the government ' s push to make aid deliver better results, SCI will safeguard the distribution of drugs and make sure they reach those most in need by providing aid when agreed milestones are met . Staff will be trained in the recipient countries to work within high risk communities.
- Streamline with other donor drug distributions: The US government recently committed additional funding to neglected tropical diseases including intestinal worms and schistosomiasis. To ensure funds are streamlined and avoid duplication, SCI, the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and USAID will integrate treatment programmes in all eight countries.
- Lasting legacy: In addition, SCI in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) will work with recipient countries to ensure local ownership by preparing national plans for the sustainable control of all neglected diseases. Thus they work with national ministries of health and national partners to train staff on how distribute drugs to the communities who need them the most.
Intestinal worms and the less well known schistosomiasis are neglected tropical diseases caused by parasites transmitted in areas with poor hygiene and no safe water. They cause malnutrition, lethargy and anemia and are one of the most common health reasons why children do not attend school.
If left untreated in childhood the symptoms escalate in adulthood and can result in liver disease and bladder cancer - an estimated 280,000 deaths every year in developing countries are attributable to the parasites.
At least 75% of the people set to benefit from the treatments will be school children with mass distributions targeting schools in high risk rural areas in eight of Africa's poorest countries.
Pregnant women who are vulnerable to complications in childbirth because of the parasites will also be included.
DFID support will be invested over a five year period in the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) based at Imperial College London.
International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:
"Education is one of the best routes out of poverty, yet millions of children are unable to fully benefit from attending school because they are weakened by these diseases.
"British aid will provide up to 75 million lifesaving treatments - ensuring that ill health doesn't stop millions of the most vulnerable children getting a basic education and breaking the cycle of extreme poverty."
Professor Alan Fenwick, Director of SCI at Imperial College London said "For less than 50p per child per year we can deliver treatments that will put a stop to these diseases which affect most developing countries. This represents excellent value for public investment in health."
Moses Bockarie, Director of CNTD and from Sierra Leone, welcomes this increased attention by DFID to deal with tropical diseases that have been long neglected yet cause much ill health and suffering among the poorest populations.
DFID is supporting the elimination of a range of neglected tropical diseases including guinea worm, elephantiasis and river blindness. Earlier this month (01/10/10) DFID announced guinea worm eradication in Nigeria.
At the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September the UK committed to saving more women and children's lives by ensuring safer births and better access to education.
Last updated: 09 Oct 2010