Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute World Scabies Program

The Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award supports five organisations that are addressing areas of significant social need through bold projects that promise lasting community benefit.

200 million+

People worldwide are affected by scabies

1.5 million

People expected to receive treatment from this funding

90% reduction

Expected in the prevalence of scabies with a single round of medicine

"We know it's safe, it's been given to over a billion people, and what we know from our research, and other's research, is that Ivermectin given to communities at the one time is highly effective in reducing the burden on scabies."

Professor Andrew Steer
Director, World Scabies Program

This video was filmed in April 2021.

According to data gathered by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and its partners, scabies affects approximately 200 million people at any one time with about 450 million new cases every year. The condition can lead to severe skin infections and other fatal diseases, impacting the economic and social growth of communities globally.

It affects children like Addisu, who developed scabies soon after starting school in Ethiopia. The debilitating condition made it impossible for him to write and sit during lessons and eventually forced him to leave school. Fortunately, he received treatment which cured his scabies and he was able to resume his education within a year.

This story alone shows the life-changing impact treatment can have.

The Institute and its partners are using a medication called ivermectin to address this disease. Providing a single round of the drug in a community can reduce the prevalence of scabies from 30 per cent to under 2 per cent within 12 months. Work is now taking place to develop a global strategy for scabies control.

"Scabies is a disease of poverty. It’s a miserable disease that affects children more than any other group, with its transmission exacerbated by overcrowding and poor living circumstances."

- Professor Andrew Steer, Director, Infection and Immunity Theme, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

"The World Scabies Program has tools at the ready to eliminate a highly-contagious, debilitating disease. Through its bold approach to tackling a global health problem, the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and its partners promise to positively impact quality of life for millions of people."

- Mary Reemst, Chair, Macquarie Group Foundation

Funding outcomes

Funding from the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award will be used to establish projects in Fiji and the Solomon Islands to demonstrate that scabies can be eliminated as a public health problem at a national scale. To achieve this, medication will be supplied to treat 1.5 million people for two rounds of treatment and results will then be evaluated in each country. The funding will support the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and its partners to help establish a global strategy for scabies elimination, developing internationally endorsed protocols and training for community-based treatment.