With approximately two billion
people affected worldwide by soil-transmitted helminthes, WHO has proposed
strategic plans by which an estimated 295 million infected patients would
benefit from deworming tablets this year.
It has been known from previous
studies that mass drug administration is effective in controlling the infection
but without further awareness, the infection returns to previous levels within
6 to 18 months.
In an attempt to prevent the
spread and reoccurrence of the infection, a team of researchers from University
of Queensland, evaluated the efficacy of a health-educational program among
schoolchildren in preventing the infection with soil-transmitted worms
Researchers conducted their study
in China where around 129 million people are infected. The randomized study
involved 1718 students from 38 schools for a period of ten months.
The schools in the control group were given only a poster
informing the children about the worm infections and preventive measures. While
the schools in the intervention group received an educational package, which
included a 12 minute awareness cartoon. The program also included classroom
discussions, displaying posters, distributing pamphlets containing key points
to prevent the infection, drawing and essay writing competitions to create
awareness among the students.
Fecal samples of the students
were examined for ascaris and trichuris worms
at the start and end of
the program. The students had completed a questionnaire, which evaluated their
knowledge about the infection and hygienic behavior like washing hands before eating
food and after using the toilet. Students had reported their good hygienic
practices, which were also observed by the analysts at schools.
At the end of the program, researchers found that the
incidence of infection had reduced by half in the intervention group when
compared with the control group. This decrease in infection was attributed to
the increased awareness and improved hygienic practices.
It was observed that the number
of children who washed their hands after using the toilet had increased
drastically in the intervention group, while it remained the same in the
Authors thus note that
complementing the current deworming strategy with video-based educational
programs among schoolchildren will definitely be effective in controlling and
preventing the infections.
Health-Education Package to Prevent Worm Infections in
Chinese Schoolchildren; Franziska Bieri et al.