Rresearchers at Stanford University, U.S.A. have said that   a large-scale de-worming treatment programme is needed to free about 1.5 billion people of these harmful and unpleasant parasites

The team says the World Health Organization needs to speed up its response on the eradication of worm that presently focused largely on school-aged children living in high-prevalence areas. The team’s research recommends mass treatment of whole communities.

According to the team, Worms affect a quarter of the world’s population and they are transmitted by eggs passed in the faeces of infected people through contaminated food or water supplies.

The researchers calculated the costs versus the benefits of using these medicines in different communities in the Ivory Coast where parasitic-worm infections are common. By their calculations, outlined in The Lancet Global Health journal, it would cost about £109 per person per year, which they say is highly cost effective.

Dr Jason Andrews, Lead researcher said: “We found that when you do so, the results strongly support a much broader treatment scope than has been historically recommended.”

But the WHO says it has no plans of changing its current strategy. Targeting more people risks the development of drug resistant infections, and that “If drug pressure is too intense, it may promote selection of resistant worms, as has occurred in veterinary parasitology; repetition of the same error in tackling human health should be avoided,” a spokesman said.

In 2013, more than 368 million children were treated with anti- helminthic medicines in endemic countries, corresponding to 42% of all children at risk.

The global target is to regularly treat at least 75% of all children in endemic areas.

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