Poor hygiene conditions and water-based activities make children particularly vulnerable to infection. Children who have been infected often suffer from malnourishment and therefore frequently lag behind in their physical, intellectual and academic development. A sustained severe attack of schistosomiasis can cause lasting damage such as fibrosis of the liver, bladder cancer and kidney failure. The medication praziquantel is used in mass administration to control schistosomiasis. Figures from WHO show that around 261 million people – mainly in Africa, but also in parts of Asia and Latin America – currently need this preventive treatment on a regular basis; however, only about 14 per cent of these are reached.

These last three conditions are among the so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the infectious diseases which affect the “bottom billion” in particular: the approximately 1.4 billion people in the world who still have to get by on an income of less than 1.25 dollars per person per day.