Soil-transmitted helminths (STH) infections are considered Neglected Tropical Diseases, a group of illnesses that affect children and adults in the world’s poorest communities. There are five main STH species: Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, Strongyloides stercoralis and the two species of hookworms. At least 1.5 billion people around the world are currently suffering a disease caused by one or more of these parasites. They mostly affect growth and development in children, can cause anaemia and life threatening complications. But the consequences of STH infections go beyond their health concerns.
These infections cause a huge disease burden in affected communities, estimated in 1.9 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). This translates to a massive loss in work and school days, affecting the whole country’s economy and development. In many of these populations, STH treatment has already been recognised as one of the key actions to promote learning and educational advancement.