A global approach to the control of scabies led by the Murdoch Children's Research and partners is one of 12 finalists for the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, which recognises work targeting social need with grants totalling $50 million.

The Macquarie Group received 1,000 applications from around the world and will choose five winners with each receiving $10 million over five years.

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute application is for the World Scabies Elimination Program, which will utilise ivermectin (an oral medication) to treat scabies in large populations.

MCRI's Director of Infection and Immunity, Professor Andrew Steer, said his team had developed the World Scabies Elimination Program to bring together key global partners, and drive scabies research into public health action to eliminate the debilitating skin condition. Key partners include the Fiji Ministry of Health, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies and the World Health Organization.

"We want to alleviate the suffering and disability caused by scabies," Prof Steer said.

"Scabies infestation is frequently complicated by bacterial infection, leading to the development of skin sores that can cause more serious problems like septicaemia, heart disease and chronic kidney disease."

Prof Steer said if MCRI is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding will be used to establish demonstration projects in Fiji and Solomon Islands that prove scabies can be eliminated on a national scale.

"To achieve this, the projects will include purchasing medications to treat 1.5 million people for two rounds of treatment and evaluating the results in each country," Prof Steer said.

He said the program will set up partnerships with key support institutions, including public health departments and community leaders, and it will also develop internationally endorsed guidelines for scabies control.

"The funding will support MCRI and its partners to roll out the World Scabies Elimination Program," Prof Steer said. "The program will develop and disseminate internationally endorsed protocols and training materials for community-based treatment to eliminate this disease."

Scabies affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region and Indigenous communities in Australia. Children are affected more than adults.

The Macquarie Group, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, says the awards aim to build on an organisation's ability to address social need and encourage bold thinking in how to address social needs.

Available for interview:

Professor Andrew Steer

Media Contacts:

Bridie Byrne, MCRI communications specialist                                                      

+613 9936 6211 / 0403 664 416                                                        


Christine Tondorf, MCRI communications advisor

+613 9936 6197 / 0413 307 092