Neglected tropical diseases

Brazilian school-based deworming and leprosy case-finding campaign targets more than 9 million children

Geneva | 18 March 2013

More than 9 million pupils aged between 5–14 years will be treated for intestinal worms and screened for leprosy from 18 to 22 March 2013 as part of a Ministry of Health initiated-campaign in Brazil.

©Bruno Antunes
School girl participating in deworming and leprosy screening campaign in Aracaju City - Sergipe State, Brazil

The objective is to reduce the parasitic burden of soil-transmitted helminthiases in schoolchildren and identify suspected cases of leprosy through a survey that involves mapping of lesions, and referring any suspected case to a primary care service for diagnostic confirmation and treatment.

The magnitude of this public health intervention is vast, involving 800 municipalities of 27 states with financial support from the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The activities will be carried out by municipal health departments in partnership with nongovernmental and other organizations.

Schoolchildren will be given an appropriate dose of the deworming medicine albendazole by specially trained health professionals. The Brazilian Ministry of Health funded mobilization, guidance and educational activities for teachers and students before the launch of this campaign.

The campaign aims at evaluating 70% of students through the survey of signs and symptoms suggestive of leprosy and treating at least an identical percentage of schoolchildren aged 5–14 years for intestinal worms.