Children Without Worms

Partnership Objectives

  • Reduce morbidity in children infected or at risk of infection with STH or intestinal worms.
  • Partner with global health stakeholders to implement programs that prevent the cycle of worm transmission through promotion of hygiene education and access to clean water and improved sanitation.

Partnership Description
Many diseases disproportionately affect women and children in the developing world, and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is one of them. A debilitating but often-neglected infection of intestinal worms, STH has a crippling effect on millions, but is especially dire for children because it causes malnutrition and increases susceptibility to other serious infections.

Children Without Worms (CWW), a partnership between The Task Force for Global Health and Johnson & Johnson, envisions a world with children free of intestinal parasites so they can grow, play, learn and enrich their communities. To achieve this vision, CWW has distributed 50 million doses of anthelmintics medicine mebendazole per year and supports comprehensive hygiene education efforts to reach children who are most severely affected or at high risk of STH infection.

CWW now treats about 20 million children throughout Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. As part of a five-year commitment to support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, Johnson & Johnson will distribute mebendazole in 30 to 40 countries by 2015 and include education to help children prevent re-infection.

More than 600 million school-age children are infected with intestinal worms. According to the WHO, in 2010, only about 30% are receiving treatment. Donated medicines are needed to address this gap in access to quality medicines.

With increased drug donations, there needs to be a systematic means to allocate the medicines, assist countries in developing the capacity to administer the treatment programs, and subsequently monitor the progress and health impact. Children Without Worms (CWW) serves as the secretariat to the program to ensure that the objectives of the program are being met.

Working with multiple countries comes with challenges unique to individual countries and are addressed on a case-by-case basis. CWW is the secretariat to the STH Advisory Committee, which has representatives from academia, global health authorities (including the WHO), health economists, epidemiologists, country program managers and government ministries. Key issues are addressed and discussed at this level, and plans of action are developed. In executing solutions, country ministries and program managers are integrally involved because of the need to ensure country ownership.

Project Partnersincluded the Ministries of Health and Ministries of Education of recipient countries. 

Lessons learned
The funding for NTDs, especially for the control of STH, is never guaranteed. It is critical to be vigilant in advocating for continued support of the program from year to year. It does not have the visibility of other major diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. However, the morbidity due to high intensity of infection is no less debilitating; robbing chronic sufferers from a quality of life and subsequently, a productive livelihood. The DALYs lost, a measure of disease burden, from chronic infections is significant and relegates communities and populations to a vicious cycle of poverty.

The medicines to treat intestinal worms made available from both J&J and GSK are only one part of the solution. Inclusion of hygiene education and clean water and adequate sanitation are key to preventing transmission and re-infection. If these issues are not addressed, treatment will need to be carried out in perpetuity. With the renewed commitments on NTDs as they relate to achieving the MDGs, there is a need to develop collaborations with those involved in WATSAN and infrastructure development.

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline , Johnson & Johnson

Partner(s) UNICEF, Fit for School, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Izumi Foundation, World Health Organization, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Helen Keller International, USA, WWF, Deworm the World, World Bank Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, NGOs, IGOs

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Intestinal worms

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Development of physical infrastructure, Availability of Treatment - Product donations, Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Youth, Children

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 28

Beneficiary Country(ies) Cambodia, Lao PDR, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Nicaragua, Yemen Rp., Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, North Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2007

Anticipated completion date 2020

Website address Partnership website