Adult worms live in a person’s intestine, where they produce thousands of eggs each day. The infection is spread when eggs are passed in human faeces and contaminate the soil – a problem that is common in poor communities with inadequate sanitation. The eggs can be ingested when contaminated soil is found on unwashed vegetables, water sources or unwashed hands.
At first, symptoms of intestinal worms may be mild or non-existent, but infections can lead to diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weakness, anaemia and nutritional problems. The disease can affect cognitive and physical development, and in severe cases can be fatal.
As well as the physical symptoms, intestinal worms can decrease people’s quality of life, affecting their employment, education, fertility and happiness. Children may be forced to miss school, damaging their education and development.
Intestinal worms can cause symptoms such as anaemia, intestinal obstruction, inflammation of the colon, impaired development, and even death. Our NTD programmes aim to target entire communities of at-risk men, women and children to eliminate these diseases.
In 2021, Sightsavers treated more than 11 million people for intestinal worms, and trained more than 450,000 local volunteers to distribute medication through mass drug administration to treat a range of neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms. Medication is also distributed in schools, and the disease is frequently treated at the same time as schistosomiasis.
As part of our community and school programmes, we aim to educate local communities about the importance of hygiene to stop the spread of disease. Access to and use of clean water and sanitation, as well as good hygienic practices such as wearing shoes and washing hands, is vital for preventing and controlling the spread of intestinal worms.
Sightsavers works closely with GiveWell to deliver cost-effective treatments that protect children from schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.Our work with Givewell
Sightsavers has been awarded $16.9 million to continue and expand its deworming work, after a funding recommendation from US charity evaluator GiveWell.
Charity evaluator GiveWell has provided a further US$7.8 million to fight intestinal worms and schistosomiasis in Nigeria and Cameroon.
Ndellejong Cosmas Eljong, Sightsavers’ technical adviser for schistosomiasis and intestinal worms, tells us via video about his work to fight parasitic worm infections and how deworming can have a huge impact on communities around the world.
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