The END Fund, a private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), today announced their partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, to provide Rwanda with 8 million additional tablets of praziquantel per year. The tablets are needed for treating adults endangered by schistosomiasis. The new partnership supports and amplifies commitments made in Rwanda’s NTD Strategic Plan, which aims to eliminate schistosomiasis and other NTDs as a public health problem by 2024.
“The END Fund is thrilled to deepen its long-standing partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, with this generous donation. Through the Deworming Innovation Fund, it will allow our partners in Rwanda to reach more underserved communities with NTD treatments. This supports the government of Rwanda’s efforts to end schistosomiasis as a public health problem, which in turn leads to better educational and economic outcomes,” said Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund.
The donation represents a significant contribution to the Deworming Innovation Fund, a four-country initiative of the END Fund to progress towards the elimination of schistosomiasis and intestinal worms in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Annually, an estimated 4.3 million people in Rwanda require preventive treatment for schistosomiasis, of whom 1.6 million are school-aged children. The END Fund has been a key partner for the Rwandan national strategic plan for NTDs in the past and continues to do so through its Deworming Innovation Fund.
To move towards the elimination of schistosomiasis, it is necessary to treat the entire population at risk, including children and adults. Through this partnership, treatment for adults will be made available.
The END Fund and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany announced their partnership on the occasion of the second World NTD Day on January 30, 2021. The World NTD Day is supported by over 230 international partners to raise awareness for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and to call for action to put an end to these diseases.
Since 2011, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has donated more than 15.2 million tablets for the treatment of school-aged children to this East African country.
“Back in 2007, more than a decade ago, our company committed to the fight against schistosomiasis. Today we are taking another important step to eliminate this deadly disease in Rwanda together with the END Fund,” said Belén Garijo, Vice Chair of the Executive Board and Deputy CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “The additional quantities of praziquantel are urgently needed to support the communities at risk and will bring us one step closer to our goal of a schisto free world.”
Schistosomiasis is a chronic condition and one of the most common and most devastating parasitic diseases in tropical countries. It is estimated that more than 240 million people are infected worldwide and that around 200,000 people die from it each year. The disease is transmitted by parasitic flatworms and the infection rate is particularly high among school-aged children.
The END Fund is the only private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the most common NTDs. Since 2012, the END Fund has raised more than USD 118 million, treated more than 140 million people with 330 million treatments at a value of more than 620 million dollars, trained over 900,000 health workers, and provided more than 10,000 surgeries to people suffering from blinding trachoma and lymphatic filariasis.