Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) infect nearly 1.5 billion people around the world and can contribute to stunted growth and development in children. Expanding control programmes to be administered at the community level may have a greater impact on STH infections in children than school-based programmes, researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
STHs, including roundworm, hookworm and whipworm, together account for the world's most common parasitic disease of humans. STH are considered diseases of poverty—they spread in areas that lack adequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Current guidelines on STH control focus on the distribution of deworming drugs to school-aged children and through school-based deworming programmes, whereby deworming tablets are given by teachers to all children regardless of infection status.
“The results provide preliminary evidence for our hypothesis that a community-wide control programme will be more effective at reducing STH infections in children than a school-based control programme,” say the researchers.