What are intestinal worms?

Intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminths) are a group of intestinal parasites that thrive in places where the soil is warm and humid, and sanitation is poor. The most common parasites are roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. People become infected after they come into contact with soil contaminated with the parasites’ eggs. Intestinal worms reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins. This exacerbates malnutrition and leads to anaemia, increased susceptibility to other infectious diseases, stunted growth, and impaired intellectual development. Symptoms of intestinal worms become more evident as the worm load in a person increases. Intestinal worms are a poverty-related disease, linked to broader community development challenges, which severely limits the ability of those infected to live full and productive lives.

People affected by intestinal worms

869 million children are at risk of contracting intestinal worms 75% of children at risk live in South-East Asia and Africa

WHO NTD roadmap targets for STH

The World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs set out a comprehensive plan for the control, elimination and eradication of various neglected tropical diseases by 2020, including intestinal worms.

Intestinal worms target: Control by 2020 75% of pre-school and school-aged children in need are treated by 2020

 

Mass drug administration status for school-age children for intestinal worms

People receiving preventive chemotherapy for intestinal worms

Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for intestinal worms has increased considerably.

Sources

  • Data is provided by the World Health Organization
  • Photo: © GSK / Marcus Perkins