Over 3 million preschool and school age children treated annually
PHOENIX, Sept. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that at least 400 million children worldwide suffer from intestinal worms. The results include stunted growth, acute abdominal pain, lethargy and an inability to concentrate.
Intestinal worms or soil-transmitted helminthes plague many developing countries. They enter the body when children walk barefoot and avoid washing hands before cooking or eating. Water-borne parasites enter the body through contaminated water during bathing, drinking or washing food.
Worldwide, intestinal worms hijack about 25 percent of the nutrition children consume. Through Food for the Hungry (FH) programs in Burundi, Africa, over 3 million school-age children are treated twice a year with Albendazole, a chewable flavored medication that expels parasites from the body.
FH's four-year partnership with Burundi's Ministry of Health is part of a multi-treatment package providing vaccinations, de-worming, Vitamin A and mosquito nets. In addition to providing de-worming medication, FH helps develop reliable sources of clean water and teaches families about sanitation and hygiene.
In the late 1990s, Berkley and Harvard professors Edward Miguel and Michael Kremer found that de-worming school children reduced absenteeism by 25 percent. One decade later, de-wormed young adults earned 20 percent more annually and worked more hours weekly than those not de-wormed.
"De-worming dramatically improves the lives of children, and Food for the Hungry remains committed to the long-term impact it is having in Burundi and around the world," said Andrew Crawford, FH's Director of Global Commodity Resourcing. "Children are transformed from languishing to thriving. Their health and development improve, they miss fewer school days and they live more fully."
The CIA World Fact Book ranks Burundi in the bottom five poorest countries, based on GDP. With a link between de-worming, additional school years and increased GDP, the positive impact will continue for Burundi well into the future.
"We can't ignore the dynamic shifts that are happening because of this health initiative," said Crawford.
For more information about FH's work in Burundi, visit http://fh.org/deworming-burundi.
Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry provides emergency relief and long-term development programs in more than 20 countries to help the world's most vulnerable people. Learn more by visiting www.fh.org. Social connections include www.facebook.com/foodforthehungry and www.twitter.com/food4thehungry.
SOURCE Food for the Hungry