SCI Foundation

SCI Foundation

SCI Foundation (formerly known as the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative) works with governments in sub-Saharan African countries to develop effective programmes aimed at eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Its focus is on reducing and treating parasitic worm infections — schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

What problem is SCI Foundation working on?

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 20 debilitating and diverse diseases caused by various pathogens. NTDs affect over 1 billion of the most marginalised populations in the world, driven by the environmental and social conditions in which people live — such as low-quality housing, inadequate water, sanitation and health services, and political instability.

NTDs have a multidimensional relationship with poverty. Some, like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis, lead to disability and disfigurement, subjecting those affected to stigma and exclusion and affecting their mental health and livelihoods. Others, such as parasitic infections, can cause long-term health and educational outcomes, making it difficult to earn a living and limiting productivity in school and at work.

SCI Foundation reports that in 2020, only 44% of people needing treatment for schistosomiasis were treated (leaving more than 130 million people without treatment), and only 58% received treatment for intestinal worm infections (leaving more than 613 million people without treatment).

What does SCI Foundation do?

SCI Foundation focuses on creating sustainable programmes that break transmission cycles at the source to eliminate disease and infection.

Specifically, SCI Foundation:

  • Supports governments in sub-Saharan African countries in developing effective programmes to reduce parasitic worm infections, including schistosomiasis, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm.
  • Promotes “country ownership” of NTD programmes by working with governments to sustainably strengthen health systems and environmental conditions.
  • Adopts a multi-pronged strategy towards NTD elimination, including WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) initiatives and a One Health approach (acknowledging the intersection of animal, human, and environmental health in disease control and prevention).
  • Conducts research to help guide its work and the work of its partners.
  • Helps ministries of health monitor and evaluate programmes to better evaluate impact, develop context-specific interventions, and identify areas for improvement.

SCI Foundation values transparency, and regularly reports on its impact and how donations are spent.

What evidence is there of SCI Foundation’s effectiveness?

SCI Foundation reports that it delivered 63 million treatments to 52 million people in 2021, and claims that just £1 can help deliver treatment for up to three people.

SCI Foundation meets our criteria to be listed on our platform because it was previously one of our recommended charities due to GiveWell’s inclusion of it as a top-rated giving opportunity from 2011 to 2022. GiveWell’s decision to no longer recommend SCI Foundation was not based on any shift in thinking about SCI Foundation, but rather a change in its top charity criteria. (See more about GiveWell’s decision and how that decision affects our recommended charities.)

Open Philanthropy has also awarded several grants to SCI Foundation, including over $3 million USD in 2021, which is an indicator of its cost-effectiveness.

Some research shows that deworming has positive effects on improved life outcomes like school attendance and income earnings. There is also some uncertainty surrounding findings that link deworming programs to improved life outcomes — see GiveWell’s in-depth report on the case for mass deworming.

We intend to reevaluate the status of all of the charities listed on our platform that are working on deworming programmes after one of our trusted evaluators, Founders Pledge, publishes its review of deworming’s cost-effectiveness. (Our trusted evaluators are charitable giving experts who focus on impact — their research into the best charities means your donations can do even more good. Learn more about charity evaluators we trust and why.)

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation’s work, which considers much more than just the administration costs of the organisation. Learn more about this common “overhead myth” and our approach to charity evaluation.

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