The Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) launched its national control program against two neglected tropical diseases, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths (STH) today at a ceremony in Awassa. Evidence Action and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative are providing technical support to the Ministry of Health.
In the first deworming round, health extension workers and teachers will administer treatments to 16.5 million school-age children against STH in 459 woredas (districts), and to a subset of 6.5 million school-age children against schistosomiasis in 189 woredas across the country’s 11 regions.
Between 2015 and 2020 the program will distribute more than 100 million treatments in all endemic areas of the country with the aim of eliminating schistosomiasis and STH-related morbidity.
Schistosomiasis and STH are significant public health burdens in Ethiopia. They cause anaemia, reduced nutrient uptake, malnutrition, stunting and wasting, and decreased school attendance. Ethiopia has the fifth-highest worm burden among school age children in the world, and has been identified as high priority country for the control of helminth infections by international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the STH Coalition, and the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance.
The national program is implemented by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute. It is funded by a consortium of partners including The END Fund, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the UK aid agency DFID, as well as a range of private donors. Deworming drugs are donated by Merck KGaA (Praziquantel for schistosomiasis) and Johnson&Johnson (Mebendazole for STH) through the WHO drug donation program.