For thousands of years, parasitic worms have held back human progress. Disease caused by the most common of these infections — roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and schistosomiasis — have stymied human health, causing pain, stealing nutrients, and stunting both physical and cognitive growth in children, preventing them from reaching their full potential. While existing deworming programs have successfully reduced suffering caused by parasitic worms for millions, nearly half of Africa’s population remain at risk of infection.
What is the Audacious Project?
The Audacious Project was launched in April 2018, with a mission to foster “collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas.” Housed at TED and operated with support from The Bridgespan Group (a leading social impact advisor to nonprofits and NGOs, philanthropists and investors), The Audacious Project brings together some of the most respected organizations and individuals in philanthropy — the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, Dalio Foundation and more. The Audacious Project surfaces and funds critical projects with the potential to create global change.
“The Audacious donor community’s anchor capital will allow the END Fund to push the boundaries of what’s possible: eliminate intestinal worms and schistosomiasis as a public health problem in select geographies in Africa. This catalytic funding will accelerate the progress already taking place across Africa to help ensure that all families, communities and economies can thrive.”
–Ellen Agler, END Fund CEO
The funding through TED’s Audacious Project will enable us to work with partners and accelerate progress towards elimination of intestinal worms and schistosomiasis as a public health problem in targeted countries in Africa over six year. These parasites are mind-blowingly inexpensive and easy to treat. Deworming pills, given once or twice a year, treat existing worms and help protect against new infections. By leveraging drug donations from pharmaceutical companies we can deliver treatment at an average cost of less than 25 cents per child per year. We expect to reach approximately 100 million people in targeted countries in Africa with this initiative. At the same time, we will develop innovative partnerships to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene strategies and work with governments and local partners to build sustainable deworming programs. Developing national-scale deworming programs that are designed, run, and funded through locally-driven efforts is truly an audacious goal. We are confident this initiative can help boost the health of millions.
Deworming is one of the most cost-effective social investments. Studies show that children who are dewormed miss less school and girls are more likely to graduate secondary school. In fact overtime, children who are dewormed earn more money than their peers that do not receive treatment. A small initial investment in deworming children generates a return of 82% per year through higher earnings. Specifically, schistosomiasis leads to the deaths of more than 170,000 people per year. Ending intestinal worms and schistosomiasis would remove a large barrier to economic growth in communities across Africa.
Anchor funding for this project has been generously committed by a group of visionary partners including The ELMA Foundation, Delta Philanthropies, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Rosamund Zander and Hansjörg Wyss for the Wyss Medical Foundation, and Virgin Unite.