It takes a community of committed people to reach millions. Our Deworm the World staff and partners in Ethiopia and Kenya, through a pioneering international collaboration, are working together to ramp up a successful national school-based deworming program in Ethiopia.
The case for mass school-based deworming in endemic countries stands on two legs: First, the body of rigorous evidence that supports mass deworming as a cost-effective intervention. Second, mass treatment without first testing for infection is cheap, safe, and an efficient strategy for reaching lots of kids quickly. Claims in a recent paper by Calum Davey and colleagues and the Cochrane Review by members of the same research group that have been picked up in the press are based on flawed analysis, and could threaten an emerging public health success story.
What does it take to become a global leader in tackling debilitating parasitic worms in children? Speed and willingness to learn from other countries who have already done it.
This is the story of Ethiopia where in January of this year, the Federal Ministry of Health announced a national school-based deworming program that will treat over 80% of at-risk children for parasitic worms (namely, soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis) by 2020. In the course of the next five years, the Ministry of Health will collaborate with teachers and health extension workers to distribute over 100 million worm treatments to at-risk children in all corners of this vast country.