GSK gives update on agreement with World Health Organization to support de-worming of school age children in endemic countries

First African countries, Togo and Rwanda, receive albendazole donations to scale-up school based de-worming programmes for children at risk of intestinal worms. Donations to go beyond Africa to include endemic countries in Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Issued: London UK

  • First African countries, Togo and Rwanda, receive albendazole donations to scale-up school based de-worming programmes for children at risk of intestinal worms. Donations to go beyond Africa to include endemic countries in Asia Pacific and Latin America

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced progress on its commitment to expand the donation of albendazole to the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat school age children at risk of intestinal worms, known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH). An agreement signed today formalises the pledge made by GSK in October 2010 to provide an additional 400 million tablets of albendazole per year to WHO to enable de-worming of school age children in Africa. Today’s agreement also provides for albendazole donations to be made to STH endemic countries around the world beyond Africa to ensure the greatest possible benefit is derived from this donation.

The first African countries, Togo and Rwanda, have received early shipments of albendazole treatments from GSK under this commitment to begin scaling-up their school based de-worming efforts. Further countries including Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda and Burkina Faso are expected to begin programmes over the next 12 months. To meet its commitment, GSK has invested in its factory in South Africa to increase its production capacity of albendazole with first new production due to come on stream next month.

Intestinal worms are the main cause of disease burden in school age children in developing countries, often resulting in growth stunting, anaemia, malnutrition and poor school performance.i WHO recommends annual treatment of children in endemic areas with single dose de-worming medicines such as albendazole.ii De-worming results in substantial improvements in child health and development, which also improves school attendance, school results and productivity,iii, iv and could help to reduce the burden on already overstretched health systems.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said: “GSK is committed to playing its part in tackling diseases that affect the world’s poorest countries by investing in the development of new medicines and vaccines and taking steps to increase access to existing treatments. In formalising this important agreement today, we will help to ensure that there are sufficient volumes of de-worming medicines available to meet the need across the world. Giving one tablet once a year to a child is a simple but powerful intervention which can improve their health and development and as a result their academic performance, with the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty in these countries.”

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO said: "WHO commends today's donation, which will help in providing wider coverage for the millions of children worldwide who silently suffer from the prolonged effects of intestinal worms.”

GSK and WHO have a long term partnership fighting neglected tropical diseases. In 1998 a collaboration to eliminate elephantiasis was formalised. The commitment to donate 400 million tablets of albendazole per year for the treatment of intestinal worms is in addition to GSK’s ongoing commitment to provide the WHO with 600 million tablets of albendazole per year for use in the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF, commonly known as elephantiasis), a disfiguring disease that causes debilitating damage to the lymphatic system, kidneys, arms, legs and genitals. This brings GSK’s total donation commitment to the WHO to one billion tablets of albendazole each year.

A statement from the WHO on today’s agreement is available here.


  • Intestinal worms affect around 800 million children worldwide.v
  • The greatest impact of intestinal worms falls on children. For children aged 5-14 years in low-income countries, intestinal worms account for 11-12% of the total disease burden in this age group – their single largest contributor to disease.i
  • Carrying worms contributes to malnutrition, slow growth and development. Hookworm associated anaemia in women of child bearing age contributes significantly to low birth weight and excess infant
  • School enrolment by girls increases with de-worming programmes and their dropout and retention rates improve. Worm infections cause about 200 million years of lost primary schooling.i
  • There are three main species of intestinal worm; the round worm (Ascaris lumbricoides), the whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale).
  • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic disabling infections that affect the world’s poorest populations. They are an indicator of poverty and disadvantage and are among some of the most common infections in the estimated 2.7 billion people who live on less than $2 per day.vii

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  1. Thinking beyond deworming. The Lancet 2004, Vol 364, 9450: 1993-1994.
  2. Preventive Chemotherapy in human helminthaisis: coordinated use of anthelminthic drugs in control interventions: a manual for health professionals and programme managers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2006.
  3. First WHO report on neglected tropical diseases 2010: working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases.
  4. Miguel E, Kremer M, (2004) Worms: Identifying Impacts on Health and Education in the Presence of Treatment Externalities. Econometrica, Vol 72, 1: 159-217.
  5. WHO. Soil-transmitted helminthiasis: estimates of the number of children needing preventive chemotherapy and number treated, 2009. Weekly epidemiological record (WER) 2011; No. 25, 2001, 86: 257-268.
  6. Report of the third global meeting of the partners for parasite control Deworming for Health and Development. Geneva, 29–30 November 2004. World Health.
  7. Hotez PJ, et al., Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, N Engl J Med 2007, 357:1018-27.


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GlaxoSmithKline cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
Under the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK's operations are described under 'Risk Factors' in the 'Business Review' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2010