November 8, 2012: Today, the World Health Organization’s African Regional Office (WHO: AFRO) donated 5 million deworming tablets to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health. These tablets will protect 3million people from schistosomiasis, a common parasitic disease second only to malaria in prevalence.  Merck, a pharmaceutical company, gave the drugs to the WHO as part of a donation program created in response to the 2001 World Health Assembly resolution to make treatment regularly accessible to at least 75 percent of school-aged children. This most recent donation is part of a larger 23,025 million tablet contribution to support Nigeria’s NTD program.

There are currently 33.5 million people at risk for schistosomiasis in Nigeria, most of whom are children.

Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases was quoted in the WHO’s press release,  “This donation is a crucial part of the global push to control and eliminate NTDs. By supporting Nigeria in the implementation of its multi-year national plan, Merck is charting the path toward the 2020 NTD control and elimination goal in Africa and around the world.”

One of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) calls for essential medications to be made affordable and widely available.  Merck’s generous donation is a huge step towards achieving the MDG to fight the diseases largely affecting developing countries such as Nigeria.

To read more, check out the WHO’s press release on the big strides being made today in Nigeria.

Learn more about the World Health Organization’s African Regional Office  and Merck & Co. by visiting their websites.