An Open Letter: The Case for Deworming Children
Like vaccines, deworming programs offer children living in communities without clean water and sanitation a foundation for improved health and a world of opportunity.
870 million children around the world are at risk from soil transmitted helminths (STH), or parasitic intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are diseases of poverty, endemic in communities with limited access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities. STH-related infections cause anemia, malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Children suffering from STH infections face impaired cognitive development and reduced quality of life over the long-term.
As scientists, practitioners and child health advocates working in government, business and civil society, we are committed to ensuring that children around the world have the chance to live worm-free, healthy, and productive lives.
On July 23, two replication studies and one systematic review were released that call into question some of the benefits of mass deworming programs. The systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration does not take into consideration a number of recent studies that demonstrate the health, educational, and economic benefits of deworming. This evidence base has informed – and continues to inform – good public policy.
Mass deworming programs reach millions of at-risk children with safe, effective drugs. Often administered in schools, these programs represent the best in collaboration across governments, nongovernmental organizations, donors, pharmaceutical companies, community leaders, health workers, and teachers. Globally, national deworming programs are one of the most cost-effective interventions in global health and development—and they are key to the World Health Organization’s strategy to reducing the morbidity caused by intestinal worm infections in children.
A growing body of evidence affirms the positive impacts of mass deworming: Worm-free children have a better shot at healthy, productive lives. We are united in our commitment to mass deworming as one of the most cost-effective ways to provide infected children with greater quality of life and better health and education outcomes.
August 6, 2015
Children's Investment Fund Foundation
Children Without Worms
Food for the Hungry
HDI (Health & Development International)
Helen Keller International
Ivo de Carneri Foundation, Italy
Ivo de Carneri Foundation, Zanzibar
Kenya Medical Research Institute
Mundo Sano Foundation
Porridge and Rice
Public Health Laboratory- Ivo de Carneri, (PHL-IdC) WHO Collaborating Centre for NTDs
Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation (SCORE)
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
The MENTOR Initiative
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
World Vision International
Dr. Clayton Ajello, Senior Technical Advisor, Vitamin Angels Alliance, Inc.
Dr. Yahya Al-Sawafy, Resident Representative, Ivo de Carneri Foundation, Zanzibar Branch
Dr. Marco Albonico, Ivo de Carneri Foundation, Milan, Italy
Professor Alan Fenwick, Director, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
Dr. Teshome Gebre Kanno, Regional Director for Africa, International Trachoma Initiative, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Seung Lee, Senior Director, School Health and Nutrition, Save the Children USA
Dr. Saleh Juma Mohammed, NTD Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Pemba Island, Zanzibar
Stephanie Ogden, Senior Water Policy Advisor, CARE
Dr. CR Revankar, Consultant, Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases
Peter Rodrigues, Deputy Director, World Food Programme
Tala de los Santos, Global Program Leader, Diagnostics, PATH
Dr. Lorenzo Savioli MD, Chair of the Executive Group of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA)