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‘Political Will, Dogged Organization’ Needed To Maintain Momentum Of Deworming Campaigns

In this New York Times opinion piece, journalist Amy Yee examines the cost-effectiveness of and challenges to deworming treatment campaigns in the developing world, highlighting campaigns in India and Kenya. She writes, “Intestinal worms are pervasive in the developing world and can have devastating effects. But there is growing awareness about how easy and inexpensive it is to treat worms, as well as surprising longer-term socioeconomic benefits. Research shows deworming to be extremely cost-effective.” Yee provides statistics from previous studies on the various benefits of deworming school-aged children and asks, “If giving deworming pills to schoolchildren is so easy and effective, why haven’t more large-scale programs taken off?”

Yee highlights a number of challenges to deworming efforts, including “lack of awareness,” “lack of advocacy,” and the high cost of diagnosing worm infections. She writes, “In fact, rolling out mass deworming programs, especially in infamously bureaucratic and corrupt India, is a huge logistical feat and a notable act of political will. … In Delhi, three ministries — education, health and women and children’s development — all had to work together.” She concludes, “[T]he deworming campaigns are just one more important step. Momentum must be sustained; children should take deworming pills twice a year for several years if infection is high. … Ultimately, political will and dogged organization are vital for mass deworming” (4/4).