Giving Compass' Take:

• Carolyn Henry explains how the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative works to sustainably address parasitic worm infections.

• How can funders work to enhance existing health work internationally? 

• Learn about the threat of parasitic worms


For those who are not familiar with the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, we work in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries. We are delivering treatments for parasitic worm infections, mostly focusing on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths, or for short, schisto and STH. We deliver those programs through national governments, so we don't directly implement, but rather support national governments to deliver their own programs through their existing health systems. We're really trying, in our new strategy, to better articulate our approach. So how we do things, not just what we're able to achieve at the end of treatment.

One of our big things we want to emphasize, though we've been maintaining them for a long time, is our partnerships. Looking at the partnerships and collaborations with other sectors like water sanitation and hygiene, and also other sectors like education and nutrition which are overlapping as well. But also, we really want to show how we're working through the partnerships with local governments, to make our work as effective as it can be. We are also looking at our own processes and procedures, making them as effective internally, but also making them accessible for the countries and governments with which we work, so they can have their own embedded knowledge management systems, and they can mentor some of the approaches that we might use as standards, and learn procedures they might not have otherwise known about. So we're really keen to put some innovation into each country's programs.

We're also trying to keep a sustainability element. Schistosomiasis in particular is not going to go away very quickly. We're going to have to work for many years at delivering the mass drug administration programs. And then after that, there still needs to be a health system in place that can sustain the surveillance, so that these diseases don't just come back again. It's not good enough to treat until the rate goes down enough, because it will just come back up without the proper water sanitation, education, and behavior change. We need to make sure that local health systems are strong and robust to be able to sustain the programs now, but also to do the necessary surveillance in the future.

Finally, we are always evidence-based. We're not only evidencing about the treatments for the parasitic worm infection, we also want to evidence the approach that we use to prove that it is a very effective method, and also just understand more about how we're connecting to existing health systems and strengthening them from them the inside. We want to understand, and to be able to articulate that better.

Read the full article about schistosomiasis by Carolyn Henry at Effective Altruism.