Recent recommendations by the World Health Organisation have called for the involvement of schoolsin target populations whereanintense transmission of parasites is found; "Schools provide a good entry point for deworming as they allow easy provision of the health and hygiene education component such as the promotion of hand washing and improved sanitation"saidthe WHO in a statementpublished last week around the release of new figures.

Over 270 million preschool-age children and over 600 million school-age children live in areas where these parasites are intensively transmitted, and are in need of treatment and preventive interventions.

The World Health Organisation has recently encouraged periodic deworming, with recommended deworming medicines Albedazone and Mebendazone, which it donates to government health ministries.

It commends these treatments for being cheap and easy to administer by non-medical personnel, for example teachers. Widely distributed in tropical and subtropical areas, with the greatest numbers occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, China and East Asia, the helminth infections are caused by parasitic worms (helminths) that are transmitted to people through contaminated soil.

"The worms feed on host tissues, including blood, which leads to a loss of iron and protein. The worms increase malabsorption of nutrients. In addition, roundworm may possibly compete for vitamin A in the intestine. Some soil-transmitted helminths also cause loss of appetite and therefore a reduction of nutritional intake and physical fitness. In particular, T. trichiura can cause diarrhoea and dysentery," said the WHO.

For further information on how worms affect school health and nutrition visit schoolsandhealth'sworm page.

For more press coverage on this story pleasesee the original article from which this piece has been adapted: WHO: 2bn people infected by helminth

And: 2 billion infected with with worm infections - WHO

Infection Control Today Parasitic Worms in Contaminated Soil Affect the World's Poorest Communities

Readthe release from WHO which can befound on the WHOwebsite.