Journal of Earth, Environment and Health Sciences

: 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 83--84

Targeting Global Elimination of Soil-transmitted Helminth Infections among Children by 2020

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Targeting Global Elimination of Soil-transmitted Helminth Infections among Children by 2020.J Earth Environ Health Sci 2016;2:83-84

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Targeting Global Elimination of Soil-transmitted Helminth Infections among Children by 2020. J Earth Environ Health Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Sep 20 ];2:83-84
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

Globally, soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections are one of the most frequent infections, which tend to predominantly affect the poorest and most deprived communities living in regions areas with substandard water, sanitation, and hygiene services. [1],[2] In fact, STH infections have been acknowledged as a major public health concern, especially in low-resource settings, owing to its enormous magnitude, impact on the productivity of an individual, and eventually perpetuation of the vicious cycle of poverty-disease-poverty. [1],[2] However, among children, these infections usually precipitate an impairment of the physical/growth, nutrition, and cognition abilities. [2]

The current estimates suggest that more than 1.5 billion people are infected with the causative organisms (viz. roundworm, hookworms, whipworm) globally. [1] Further, more than 870 million children are residing in regions which have shown conclusive evidence regarding the active transmission of the disease. [1] Recognizing the importance of the infection, the World Health Organization has set a target to eliminate STH as a health concern among children by the year 2020, which can be accomplished if at least three-fourth of the children in the 1-15 years age-group residing in an endemic region (viz. prevalence of STH more than 20%) are treated with recommended anthelmintic drugs (Albendazole and Mebendazole). [1],[3] The estimates for the year 2014 revealed that almost 400 million children were administered preventive chemotherapy for the infection, whereas 24 nations achieved the target. [1],[2],[3] However, the frequency of preventive chemotherapy depends on the prevalence of infection in the region, with children being treated once (>20%), and twice (>50%) in a year. [1],[3]

In addition, measures to provide health and hygiene education among the high-risk populations plays a crucial role in decreasing the level of transmission and the risk of recurrent infection by encouraging healthy behaviors. [2],[3] Schools, in particular, provide an ideal setting for the deworming activities as well as for the facilitation of healthy practices such as hand washing and improved sanitation facilities. [2] In fact, the findings of an epidemiological study have clearly depicted that a combination of deworming, improved sanitation or hygiene, and flooring interventions can ensure a sustained reduction in the prevalence of STH, which no single intervention can offer alone. [4] Further, these activities can even be merged with nutritional supplement initiatives to enhance the impact of overall benefits. [1],[4]

However, the path to accomplish global elimination among children is not barrier-free, and hurdles like no precise reporting about drug usage, ascertaining the best cost-effective strategy to target the population, and difficulty in ensuring the provision of adequate sanitation facilities universally, remains the key challenges. [1],[3],[5] All the identified shortcomings have to be addressed promptly, and it is extremely important to ensure that the available resources are allocated in an evidence-based manner and all the concerned stakeholders are optimally involved to reduce the prevalence of the infection. [1],[2],[5]

To conclude, the STH infections remain a significant public health concern in the low-resource settings and in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. However, owing to the availability of safe and effective medicines, it is very much possible to contain the infection and eliminate the same by 2020.

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Conflicts of interest

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1World Health Organization. Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections - Fact Sheet; 2016. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Mar 09].
2Worrell CM, Wiegand RE, Davis SM, Odero KO, Blackstock A, Cuéllar VM, et al. A cross-sectional study of water, sanitation, and hygiene-related risk factors for soil-transmitted helminth infection in urban school- and preschool-aged children in Kibera, Nairobi. PLoS One 2016;11:e0150744.
3Truscott JE, Turner HC, Anderson RM. What impact will the achievement of the current World Health Organisation targets for anthelmintic treatment coverage in children have on the intensity of soil transmitted helminth infections? Parasit Vectors 2015;8:551.
4Benjamin-Chung J, Nazneen A, Halder AK, Haque R, Siddique A, Uddin MS, et al. The interaction of deworming, improved sanitation, and household flooring with soil-transmitted helminth infection in rural Bangladesh. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2015;9:e0004256.
5Addiss DG. The challenge of unreported and unprogrammed deworming for soil-transmitted helminth control programs. Int Health 2015;7:377-9.