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Merck is providing WHO with approximately 10 million tablets for Ivory Coast.
Merck (known as MilliporeSigma in the US and Canada) announced that it has donated to the World Health Organization (WHO) the 500 millionth tablet to treat the worm disease schistosomiasis. The drugmaker’s engagement in fighting schistosomiasis dates back to 2007 and involves 35 countries in Africa. More than 100 million people, primarily children, have received treatment for this disease since 2007.
Merck representatives, WHO, and Ivory Coast Ministry of Health, jointly announced the launch of the medicine’s distribution in Ivory Coast at a school located approximately 25 km north-west of Abidjan.
At an event held at a primary school of the village of Attinguie, representatives of the Ministry of Health of Ivory Coast and the British Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) administered the praziquantel tablets for the treatment of schistosomiasis to the children. Children were given between one and five tablets, depending on their height. Teachers got involved in explaining the causes of the tropical worm disease. Merck donated a total of 20,000 educational booklets to WHO for Ivory Coast.
Schistosomiasis affects an estimated 260 million people worldwide. The infection rate is especially high among children, with serious consequences. Figures from WHO showed that approximately 20% of the Ivory Coast population requires treatment. To date, the US development agency USAID and the SCI have supported the government of Ivory Coast in its fight against schistosomiasis. As a member of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, Merck has been cooperating with both organizations since 2014.
Merck has donated to WHO, at short notice, 3.6 million tablets for 2016. Ivory Coast is benefiting from this initiative for the first time. For 2017, Merck will provide WHO with 6.5 million tablets for the West African country. Praziquantel is the most effective treatment to date for schistosomiasis.