GHIT and EDCTP co-invest additional €7.8 million in access programme for treatment of schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children

25 February 2021

GHIT – the Japanese-based Global Health Innovative Technology Fund – and EDCTP co-invest an additional €7.8 million in the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium’s treatment access programme for schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children. This ADOPT programme prepares for the large-scale access and delivery of the Consortium’s novel paediatric medication. The additional investment of €2.1 million by GHIT will run for two years (2021-2023), while the investment of €5.7 million by EDCTP will run for five years (2021-2025).

“Following our previous investment in the Consortium’s late-stage clinical development program, we felt it important to support the implementation of the access program. Indeed, successful development and access to a suitable pediatric treatment of schistosomiasis – through this global public-private partnership – will be a tangible contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring that the preschool-age group is not left behind.”

Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director

Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes. It affects almost 240 million people, mainly in communities without access to safe drinking water and with poor sanitation, with an estimated number of deaths of 200,000 per year. It is one of the most damaging tropical diseases in terms of public health burden and economic impact.

Praziquantel is the current standard-of-care treatment. The drug is safe, effective, and available. However, at present, the very vulnerable group of preschool-aged children has been left untreated in public health programs primarily due to the lack of an appropriate formulation of the drug. The Consortium has bridged this treatment gap by developing a child-friendly tablet formulation of praziquantel. The tablet is orally dispersible and has improved taste properties. The project is in a phase III clinical trial, with a pivotal trial being run in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire to generate confirmatory data for registration.

Through its ADOPT programme, the Consortium aims to identify approaches to ensure wide acceptance and equitable access to its treatment for preschool-aged children. The five-year programme considers aspects ranging from technology transfers and logistics for local manufacturing and distribution of the drug to social mobilisation and acceptance by the population. To that end, the program will support studies in selected African countries, including Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire.

The Consortium is financially supported by Merck and receives in-kind contributions from the Consortium partners. It received grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2012), the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) (2013, 2014, 2016, 2019 & 2021), and EDCTP (in 2018 – co-funding of the phase III trial – and in 2021 – co-funding of ADOPT).