Intestinal worms (also known as soil-transmitted helminths) are a group of intestinal parasites that affect people mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, China and South-East Asia. They thrive in places where the soil is warm and humid but sanitation is poor.
The most common parasites are roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. People become infected with intestinal worms 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 number of worms, or size of the worms, in a person increases.
Intestinal worms are a poverty-related disease, linked to broader community development challenges, which severely limit the ability of those infected to live full and productive lives.
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.