Macquarie reveals winners of $50 million philanthropic prize
28 August 2019 at 5:05 pm
A project looking to eliminate a debilitating skin disease affecting 200 million people globally is among the winners of a $50 million philanthropic award.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) was awarded $10 million by the Macquarie Group to aid its efforts wiping out scabies – a human parasite linked to major skin infections, blood poisoning, kidney failure and heart disease.
Researchers will use the funds to treat 1.5 million people with ivermectin, a medication which can reduce the prevalence of scabies in communities from 30 per cent to under 2 per cent within a year.
MCRI is one of five winners of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, a $50 million philanthropic commitment seeking to support projects addressing an area of unmet social need.
Professor Andrew Steer said the researchers were greatly appreciative and thankful for Macquarie Group’s support.
“These funds will make a huge difference to the lives of people infected with scabies,” Steer said.
“Right now in Fiji, the research team is working with the Fiji Ministry of Health to treat 140,000 people for scabies, but with this funding we aim to treat 1.5 million people – the entire populations of Fiji and the Solomon Islands.”
Fiji and the Solomon Islands are some of the world’s most affected countries of the disease, and will serve as pilot countries for the World Scabies Elimination Program.
Researchers will evaluate the program’s acceptability, cost and effectiveness on a countrywide scale.
“Scabies infection rates are high in many Pacific nations, parts of South America and Africa, and in Australian Indigenous communities, where up to 50 per cent of children may have scabies,” Steer said.
“Scabies is a disease of overcrowding, and people in low-income, crowded, and tropical environments with inadequate access to health services are most prone to infestation. Children are particularly vulnerable to scabies.”
Through the World Scabies Elimination Program, MCRI and partners will map the global populations affected by scabies, offer affordable access to effective treatments, and scale-up medication strategies in highly-affected countries.
Macquarie received close to 1,000 applications for the award, and out of 12 finalists, five winners were selected to each receive $10 million.
Two of the five winners of the global award – including MCRI – are Australian projects.
The winning projects address unmet social needs in the areas of lifesaving healthcare, improved social mobility for low-income workers and action to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
The projects will be delivered over the next five years, with funding released according to an agreed project timeline, which includes a strong sustainability model once the funding ends.
Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake said the award was about giving back to the communities in which its staff live and work.
“We are delighted to work with these organisations over the next five years. Their projects are addressing areas of significant social need and promise meaningful, lasting community benefit,” Wikramanayake said.
The full list of winners and information about the projects can be found here.