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Sightsavers and GiveWell

GiveWell, a charity evaluator that recommends outstanding organisations to donors, has rated Sightsavers’ deworming project as one of its top charities for six years in a row.

GiveWell is known for its in-depth analysis to find and recommend charities. For the past six years, it has recommended and funded Sightsavers for our deworming programmes.

These programmes treat children for two parasitic infections: schistosomiasis, an infection that causes the death of 200,000 people a year in sub-Saharan Africa, and intestinal worms, which affect 1.5 billion people worldwide. 

Both these ancient diseases have been infecting humans for thousands of years. If left untreated, they can cause nutritional problems and can affect cognitive and physical development. This not only has an impact on children’s health, but also affects their ability to concentrate, which may cause them to miss school – this affects their future prospects and has a broader impact on the economy.

What do GiveWell and Sightsavers hope to achieve? 

Thanks to GiveWell-supported projects, Sightsavers aims to treat school-age children for schistosomiasis and intestinal worms through programmes in schools and local communities. Both diseases can be treated with a single dose of deworming medication, often distributed in schools by specially trained teachers, who also promote the importance of hand washing and good hygiene. By preventing infection, students are more likely to be able to stay in school 

Which countries are involved? 

Sightsavers’ GiveWell-supported deworming projects are protecting children from schistosomiasis and intestinal worms in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Cameroon. 

A screengrab from a video chat, showing Alyssa Marriner and Cosmas Ejong.

How can deworming change the world?

Sightsavers technical adviser Ndellejong Cosmas Ejong tells us via video about his work to fight parasitic worm infections and how deworming can have a huge impact around the world.

Watch the video

Deworming: the diseases we treat

Intestinal worms live in the digestive system, causing malnourishment and leaving people susceptible to illness.

Children aged three to eight are most at risk: the disease can cause them to miss school, damaging their education and development. To prevent this, school children are often given a single dose of medication to treat the disease. Good hygiene can also stop intestinal worms spreading.

More about intestinal worms

Known as ‘snail fever’, schistosomiasis is caused by parasites released by freshwater snails. At first there may be no symptoms, but it can lead to pain, diarrhoea and death.

The disease mainly affects poorer communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water or adequate sanitation, but medication can stop people catching it. It is often treated alongside other neglected tropical diseases.

More about schistosomiasis

What we’ve achieved since 2017

27 million
children treated to protect them from disease
72,000
schools reached as part of our deworming programmes
90,000
teachers trained to distribute vital medication

In 2021, GiveWell judged Sightsavers’ deworming projects as an outstanding opportunity for donors to make a difference with their contributions. 

Sightsavers chief executive Caroline Harper says: “We are very excited to have been rated so highly by GiveWell for our deworming work. Our incredibly cost-effective programmes, and commitment to improving the lives of those most in need, were key to GiveWell’s decision to choose our deworming programme as one of its top charities for the sixth year in a row.

We are also delighted that GiveWell has invested an additional US$4.4 million in our deworming work in Nigeria. This funding will enable Sightsavers to support millions of at-risk children, where the UK government’s aid cuts earlier this year had left a gap.” 

Watch our videos to learn more about intestinal worms and schistosomiasis.

You can help us fight neglected tropical diseases

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More about our deworming work

In Cameroon, a schoolboy in a classroom has a drink of water after taking deworming medication.
Sightsavers from the field

“I don’t have a tummy ache any more!”

Hear first-hand how Sightsavers is working with GiveWell to control intestinal worms and schistosomiasis, two devastating diseases that affect thousands of children in Cameroon.

November 2021
Headshot of Aruna, a boy who had schisto.
Sightsavers Reports

Aruna’s story

Despite knowing how important it is to go to school, 12-year-old Aruna struggled to keep up his attendance after catching schistosomiasis, which can cause severe abdominal pain.

Embessal, a teacher, standing in front of a blackboard in a classroom.
Sightsavers Reports

Embessal’s story

Embessal Moreira, head teacher at a school in northern Guinea-Bissau, has been trained to distribute medication that treats and protects children against intestinal worms.