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A letter to our supporters: SCI Foundation’s response to COVID-19

3 April 2020

Dear supporter,

I am writing, first and foremost, to thank you for your continued support of SCI Foundation. Despite the current crisis, I would like to reassure you that we are putting measures in place to weather this crisis, while ensuring that we can be fully back in action, supporting country health staff and the delivery of effective public health programmes, as soon as it is over.

SCI Foundation does not have country offices; our operational model focuses on directly supporting Ministries of Health in sub-Saharan Africa to deliver their priorities. We do this in an agile way, so our staff currently working at home differs only slightly from normal operations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily suspended all programmes delivering mass treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), as well as associated surveys – a much needed step to protect vulnerable populations and fragile health systems from the dangers of COVID-19. While these are the main activities supported by SCI Foundation under usual circumstances, we are using this time to optimise systems and invest in our operational excellence so that we can support populations affected by NTDs as effectively as possible when the suspension is lifted, and continue to reduce the burden of disease.

2020 is an important year in the fight against NTDs; WHO will release a new Roadmap for 2021-2030 in which schistosomiasis programmes will shift gears from control efforts to elimination as a public health problem. This means we will be introducing a broader set of public health interventions to prevent transmission, such as coordinating with water and sanitation agencies to ensure areas of highest burden have adequate access to these services. We would like to say a sincere ‘thank you’ for your support in the past, and for being part of our exciting journey once this crisis ends.

On behalf of SCI Foundation, I extend my best wishes to you, your family, friends and colleagues, and hope that you are staying well and safe. To those who are suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 infection, I wish a speedy recovery.

Dr Wendy Harrison

Chief Executive Officer, SCI Foundation