We aim to constantly improve and innovate, to ensure that we optimise our efforts and use resources most cost-effectively. That’s why our scientists generate evidence to inform decisions and guide our work.
By doing this, we’re able to continually better and share our knowledge, ensuring that everyone can benefit from improved health.
Established in December 2008, the Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation (SCORE) was formed to investigate questions associated with schistosomiasis control and elimination. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it aims to develop evidence-based policy recommendations for current and future control programmes.
Behaviour, knowledge and attitudes
The Social Science unit’s main responsibility is to identify and address barriers for the uptake of treatment against parasitic worm infections. It conducts three types of activities:
i) It monitors changes in knowledge, understandings, and attitudes concerning treatment campaigns among adults and school-age children.
ii) It assesses the reach, quality, and impact of social mobilisation and sensitisation strategies adopted by local programmes.
iii) It uses evidence from operational research initiatives to design and evaluate behavioural change interventions, in collaboration with partners.
The drug praziquantel, used to treat schistosomiasis, is currently unsuitable for pre-school aged children (under 5 years of age) due to its size and bitter taste. This restricts treatment to children and adults above this age, meaning an estimated 25 million children currently lack care.
The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium was founded in 2012 as the first international, non-profit, public-private partnership in schistosomiasis supported by world leading experts in tropical parasitic infectious diseases. Its aim is to develop, register and provide access to a new orally dispersible formulation of praziquantel suitable for children 3 months to 6 years of age. The new formulation is small, has an acceptable taste, and can withstand the challenges presented by a tropical climate, and will help enable the treatment of the large group of children currently lacking care.
The Consortium received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, EDCTP and the GHIT Fund. Partners provide in-kind expertise and resources; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, also contributes with funding.
After joining in 2016, the SCI has been aiding the Consortium with the preparation and implementation of the Access and Delivery plan, that will be crucial to getting treatments to those in need.
Working alongside its partners, the Consortium aims for the product to be available for launch in the first affected countries by 2021, to further help move towards elimination of schistosomiasis worldwide.
The Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) is the convening, enabling and coordinating platform for partner organisations, including the SCI, to develop solutions that will help to eliminate schistosomiasis. The work of the GSA includes improving and increasing the treatment of at-risk populations, supporting improvements of water and sanitation, and providing and enabling education for health workers and communities about the disease. The GSA works with governments in affected countries, programme managers, funders and researchers to achieve disease control and elimination.
Part funded by the Wellcome Trust, SCAN, the Schistosomiasis Collection at the Natural History Museum, is building a global repository of schistosomiasis-related specimens; either the schistosomes themselves, or the freshwater snails that transmit schistosomes. SCAN sends fieldwork specialists out to areas where schistosomiasis is a problem to collect specimens, working in partnership with research projects and survey teams, then returning specimens to the Natural History Museum where they are placed in the best possible storage systems as an essential genetic resource for research into schistosomiasis. Gathering a large collection allows comparisons across wide geographic ranges and reanalysis years after the original sample collection.
By working alongside the SCI, SCAN will expand its coverage and generate sample and data sets that can be used to throw light on many aspects of the parasite's biology, including assessment of any potential resistance to the anti-schistosome drug praziquantel. SCAN will extend its sampling activities into more countries by taking part in the SCI’s monitoring surveys, while providing training so that local teams can continue the work. Collecting schistosomes is very difficult, and with the SCI’s help, SCAN can act as a link between survey teams working in challenging these environments and world-class genomic research laboratories.