Deworming to combat the health and nutritional impact of helminth infections
Helminths are a group of parasites commonly referred to as worms and include schistosomes and soil-transmitted helminths. Schistosome and soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most common infections in developing countries and can impair nutritional status by causing:
- internal bleeding which can lead to loss of iron and aenemia;
- malabsorption of nutrients;
- diarrhoea; and
- loss of appetite which can lead to a reduction in energy intake.
Infections can also cause cognitive impairment as well as tissue damage that may require corrective surgery.
The nutritional impairment caused by schistosome and soil-transmitted helminth infections during childhood has been shown to have a significant impact on growth and development of children. Periodic treatment (deworming) of children together with improvement of water and sanitation, and health education can reduce the transmission of schistosome and soil-transmitted helminth infections.
To reduce the worm burden, WHO recommends periodic drug treatment (deworming) of all school-age children living in endemic areas.
WHO also recommends health and hygiene education, and the provision of adequate sanitation.
This is a summary of WHO recommendations. The full set of recommendations can be found in the guidance documents, under ‘WHO documents’ below.
Status: not currently available
Other guidance documents
Helminth control in school-age children. A guide for managers of control programmes
Preventive chemotherapy in human helminthiasis. Coordinated use of anthelminthic drugs in control interventions: a manual for health professionals and programme managers [pdf 1.58Mb]
How to add deworming to vitamin A distribution [pdf 651kb]
Strengthening interventions to reduce helminth infections as an entry point for the development of health promoting schools [pdf 2.89Mb]
Related Cochrane reviews
- Deworming drugs for soil-transmitted intestinal worms in children: effects on nutritional indicators, haemoglobin and school performance
Other related systematic reviews
Impact of hookworm infection and deworming on anaemia in non-pregnant populations: a systematic review.
A review and meta-analysis of the impact of intestinal worms on child growth and nutrition.