Since GiveWell recommended the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) in November 2011, SCI has received about $1.4 million in unrestricted funds ($500,000 of which we directly attribute to GiveWell’s recommendation), of which $1.1 million remains to be spent. We have spoken with and met with SCI to discuss its plans for using these funds.
Funds spent to date
- SCI has made grants of $100,000 and $80,000 to Yemen and Senegal respectively for deworming drug delivery.
- SCI has granted about $25,000 to Tanzania to treat 153,000 children in one region.
- As part of discussions with the government about starting a national deworming program, SCI spent approximately $13,000 to support a conference on the deworming in Ethiopia.
- SCI has spent about $99,000 of the unrestricted funding on various organizational expenses such as travel and one staff member’s salary.
Plans for funds raised due to GiveWell’s research
SCI is currently planning to fund the delivery of donated schistosomiasis drugs to 1.5 million children in two regions of Ethiopia, and support disease mapping in other parts of the country. SCI is currently waiting on a budget from Ethiopia, but we estimate this project will cost a few hundred thousand dollars. SCI has told us that it expects these treatments to be delivered by the end of 2012.
SCI has also committed $100,000 to fund treatment of adults in one district of Burundi.
SCI is exploring the possibility of supporting deworming programs in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, it may use unrestricted funding to provide additional treatments in Tanzania and Malawi, which are primarily supported by a large grant from the British government.
Comparing current plans to past plans
In November 2011, SCI told us that it would primarily use additional funds to expand deworming programs in Mozambique, Malawi, and Senegal. Recently, SCI told us that these are no longer the countries it expects to focus on with the funds raised through GiveWell. What has changed:
- SCI told us that it raised sufficient funding from other sources to support the Senegal program and that it never intended to expand the program beyond paying for delivery of drugs that were already available from the World Health Organization. We had been under the impression that SCI would expand this program further if it raised the money to do so, but it appears that we had a miscommunication with SCI on this point.
- In 2010, SCI received funding from the British government to support deworming programs in 8 countries, including Mozambique and Malawi. SCI recently decided that programs planned for two of the countries weren’t feasible, and shifted the money it expected to spend in these two countries to the Mozambique program.
- There may be other changes that we are not including here. We are not confident in our understanding of why SCI changed its plans.
Comments on SCI’s plans
First, SCI expects to spend almost all of the funds it has received due to GiveWell’s recommendation for a single round of treatment (save 15% of the funds, which it will hold for future treatments). Because multiple deworming treatments appear necessary for long-term impact (though the evidence on how many treatments are needed is thin), we are concerned that spending nearly all the funds now, could reduce SCI’s expected impact.
Second, our position is that treating children accounts for the majority of impacts from deworming. We are not confident in the impact of treating adults in Burundi.