- Intestinal worms have held back human prosperity for thousands of years
- A catalytic investment through The Audacious Project 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.
- Around 100 million people at risk will be treated.
VANCOUVER, Canada, 16 April 2019 – The END Fund Chief Executive Officer Ellen Agler today announced a new initiative designed to accelerate progress towards eliminating intestinal worms and schistosomiasis in target African countries in 6 years. 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.
This initiative was launched at the annual TED Conference as part of The Audacious Project, which identifies big ideas for tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. Parasitic worms are a major public health threat, affecting nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Disease caused by the most common parasitic worm infections — roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and schistosomiasis — has stymied human health for centuries, causing pain, stealing nutrients, and stunting both physical and cognitive growth in children, preventing them from reaching their full potential.
“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,” Agler said. “This catalytic funding will accelerate the progress already taking place across Africa to help ensure that all families, communities and economies can thrive.”
Deworming is one of the most cost-effective social investments. Low-cost deworming pills, given once or twice a year, treat existing worms and protect populations against new infections. A small initial investment in deworming children generates a return of 82% per year through higher earnings. The drugs are already available – made possible by donations from key pharmaceutical companies – but challenges remain in both the delivery of treatment at scale and the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene strategies with deworming programs.
“By looking at the problem of delivering deworming treatment through a systems lens and bringing together all the right partners to make programs most effective, this project will empower local stakeholders — from heads of households to heads of state — with a path towards owning effective, sustainable deworming programs and ensure that every at-risk child receives the treatment they need,” Agler said.
The END Fund board member Tope Lawani, co-founder and managing partner of Helios Investment Partners, said, “The END Fund’s unique model and outsized impact first attracted me to become an investor and board member. The fund model allows for flexibility and innovation which makes it perfect for The Audacious Project. By aggregating funding and investing across a wide variety of implementing partners from local organizations to ministries of health, the END Fund is able to efficiently support high impact, low cost programs. I look forward to seeing how this project will be a game-changer for the NTD space.”
Developing national-scale deworming programs that are designed, run, and funded through locally-driven efforts is truly an audacious goal. The END Fund is confident it can help boost the health of millions because it has worked before. In Rwanda, for example, in the span of ten years, with private sector investment and the END Fund’s ongoing support in building technical and operational capacity, treatment programs have been embedded across the health system. Today, the rate of worm infections has dropped to nearly zero in some areas, and the government of Rwanda has committed to taking over full funding of its deworming program.
Anchor funding for this initiative has been committed by a group of visionary partners including The ELMA Foundation, Delta Philanthropies, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Rosamund Zander and Hansjörg Wyss for the Wyss Medical Foundation, and Virgin Unite.
The END Fund will be announcing more specifics about the project over the coming months.
ABOUT THE END FUND
The END Fund is the only private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect more than 1.5 billion people globally. It efficiently puts private capital to work, advocating for NTD programs that are innovative, integrated, and cost-effective. It facilitates strong partnerships with the private sector and has supported national disease control programs in 30 countries.
Since its founding in 2012, with its partners, the END Fund has provided over 740 million donated treatments worth over $1 billion, over 12,900 surgeries for people suffering from the effects of the advanced stages of elephantiasis and trachoma, and trained more than 1.4 million people in NTD control and elimination efforts.
ABOUT THE AUDACIOUS PROJECT
The Audacious Project was launched in April 2018, with a mission to foster “collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas.” Housed at TED (the nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading) 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. By removing barriers associated with funding, The Audacious Project empowers social entrepreneurs to dream boldly and take on the world’s biggest and most urgent challenges. The 2019 projects include: Center for Policing Equity, Educate Girls, Institute for Protein Design at the UW School of Medicine, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The END Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Thorn and Waterford UPSTART.
Learn more or support an existing project at AudaciousProject.org.