A new approach for controlling intestinal worm infections could help millions of the world’s most vulnerable people
Expanding the control strategy for intestinal worms to treating adults as well as children could improve the health of millions of people worldwide who are infected or reinfected by these parasites every year.
These intestinal worms – soil-transmitted helminths – are responsible for the most common parasitic disease of humans worldwide. A staggering 1.45 billion people – that’s nearly a fifth of the global population – are affected and at risk of the long-term consequences of this largely preventable infection.
Soil-transmitted helminthiasis is one of 17 “neglected tropical diseases”, a grouping that also includes dengue and chikungunya, rabies, and leprosy. These infectious diseases largely affect the world’s most impoverished people, causing a high human and economic toll through chronic disability.
As their name suggests, they have historically received little global interest or research funding when compared to the “big three” diseases on the global health agenda: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The good news is that neglected tropical diseases have been rising to prominence since the 2012 London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. This large public-private partnership is committed to eliminating or controlling ten preventable neglected tropical diseases by 2020, and has attracted substantial investment from government and philanthropic sources.
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