Intestinal worms are among the most common infections in the world, affecting more than 1.5 billion people based on estimates by the World Health Organization. Most of those infected live in tropical and sub-tropical regions in some of the world’s most distressed communities where sanitation is poor.
Research has shown that hookworm infections in children have resulted in a 23% drop in school attendance.
Infections caused by soil-transmitted helminthes are chronic and disabling and include roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. These parasites deprive their hosts of vital nutrients like vitamin A and iron, and weaken the immune systems of young children during crucial stages of growth. Infected children often suffer with painful symptoms such as swollen stomachs, diarrhea, and inflamed intestines, keeping them from attending school.
Helen Keller International is dedicated to providing the most effective and efficient prevention and treatment to combat the spread of intestinal worms and other diseases of poverty. We integrate deworming for children under five into other community-led child survival activities like vitamin A supplementation, and over 2013 to 2015 we delivered nearly 150 million deworming tablets this way in 13 African countries. For school-aged children we help provide medicine through integrated treatment of other neglected diseases, such as elephantiasis. In total, during 2017 we were able to reach over 20 million school-aged children in Africa with deworming tablets.
Our programs also help improve access to clean water and sanitation and provide school health education to encourage better hygiene habits in at-risk communities.