Around 26% of Angolans suffer from the insidious worm disease schistosomiasis
LUANDA, Angola,19 September 2016,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that the largest delivery of praziquantel tablets ever shipped to Angola recently arrived in Luanda, the capital of country. Angola has received around 4 million tablets for mass distribution to school children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Angola is one of the most endemic countries for schistosomiasis worldwide. It is estimated that around 26% of the overall population requires treatment. Angola has been participating in the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program since 2008 and has received nearly 12 million tablets to date.
“We want to contribute to eliminating the insidious worm disease in order to help infected children to take part in the economic development of their home countries. With our donation of approximately 4 million tablets to WHO for Angola approximately 1.6 million school children can be treated – covering half of the country’s school-aged population in need of treatment. This shows that we are on the right track. However, we know that we alone cannot solve the problem with our tablets,” said Eduardo Carvalho, General Manager of Merck in Angola.
As part of its responsibility for society and within Health, one of its corporate responsibility strategic spheres of activity, Merck is supporting WHO in the fight against the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. Since 2007, more than 74 million patients, primarily school children, have been treated. To this end, Merck has donated over 340 million praziquantel tablets to WHO. Praziquantel is well tolerated and the most effective treatment to date for schistosomiasis. Merck is also supporting educational and awareness programs in Africa, developing schistosomiasis therapies for very young children and cooperating with partners in the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Merck KGaA.
Schistosomiasis is a chronic condition and is one of the most common and most devastating parasitic diseases in tropical countries. It is estimated that 260 million people are infected worldwide and that around 200,000 die from it each year. Flatworms transmit the chronic disease. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions where large sections of the populations have no access to clean water and sanitary installations. People become infected with the disease by worm larvae mainly in freshwater, for example while working, swimming, fishing or washing their clothes. The miniscule larvae penetrate human skin, enter the blood vessels and attack internal organs. The infection rate is particularly high among school-aged children. Praziquantel is the only active ingredient with which all forms of schistosomiasis can be treated. WHO has therefore deemed praziquantel, the most cost-efficient solution for the health of patients in need, as the drug of choice.
The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program
Merck initiated the Praziquantel Donation Program in cooperation with WHO back in 2007. Since then, more than 340 million tablets have been donated and over 74 million patients treated, mainly school children. Merck has committed itself to maintaining its efforts in the fight against the tropical disease until schistosomiasis has been eliminated. To this end, Merck is donating up to 250 million tablets per year to WHO. The planned annual donation has a value of around US$ 23 million. In addition, Merck is supporting an awareness program at schools in Africa in order to educate children about the causes of schistosomiasis and ways to prevent it. Furthermore, as part of a public-private partnership, the company is researching a new formulation of praziquantel that can also be administered to very young children. To date, the tablets are only suitable for children older than six. At the end of 2014, Merck founded the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance together with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision International.
Further information on the fight against schistosomiasis is available on the Internet.
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