60% of Afghan children infected by intestinal parasites
The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Public Health, supported by the World Health Organization, World Food Programme and UNICEF, plan to reach every school-going child with a single 500 mg tablet of Mebendazole, consumed simply by chewing or swallowing with a glass of water. These tablets will be administered through outreach workers of the MoE and will be complemented by health and hygiene education programs in schools.
Data shows that 60% of Afghan children are infected by intestinal parasites. It is estimated that parasitic worms consume as much as 25% of what an infected child ingests, causing malnutrition, retarded growth and development, poor learning ability and frequent school absenteeism and even death.
Worm infections are common in children with poor hygiene practices. These are transmitted through the mouth (by eating with dirty hands, eating contaminated food and water), and through skin contact with soil contaminated by feces containing worms or worm eggs.
Children who are worm-free are more active, perform better in school, and are more resistant to other diseases.
Worm infections can be prevented by improving personal hygiene, practicing proper hand washing (especially after defecating, and before preparing or eating food), cooking meat thoroughly, keeping food and water supplies clean, and keeping toilets clean.
Deworming drugs like Mebendazole are one of the cheapest and most effective public health interventions.