WHO supports Romania to scale up intestinal parasite prevention and control measures in remote areas

WHO/Malin Bring

WHO and the government of Romania have scaled up and prioritised control measures to prevent and treat complications of intestinal parasites that disproportionately affect children in remote areas. The field visit took place in Danube Delta on 23-29 October 2016.

Intestinal parasites, also known as soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), are known to cause diarrhoea, anaemia, fever, fatigue and malnutrition that can impair physical growth and brain development. Walking barefoot and/or allowing children to play in areas that have been contaminated with parasite eggs are important mechanisms of infestation.

“School-aged children are particularly at risk and we must strive to minimise adverse effects through improving quality preventive and treatment interventions in remote areas,” said Professor Dr Carmen Cretu, University of Medicine, Department for Parasitic Diseases, Traveler's Health and Tropical Diseases, and team lead for the study titled: Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis in Remote Areas of Romania: Clinical, Laboratory and Economic Burden. “Improving incidence and prevalence data are some one of the most important factors to prevent infestation and ensure medicines are available where they will make the greatest impact.”

Although STH inflict disability and suffering, they can be controlled and eliminated. The treatment of STH is often based on anthelminthic drug treatment, improved sanitation and health education. Benzimidazoles (albendazole and mebendazole) are the most common types of medicine and are safe and effective in killing and removing parasites from the body.