This year’s World Health Day – the annual celebration commemorates the anniversary of the WHO’s formation in 1948 – held special significance at Bread and Water for Africa®. It called us to action to eradicate one of the most neglected but serious tropical diseases throughout developing countries.
This little girl is among many in her village suffering from water-borne illnesses.
INTESTINAL WORMS FACTS AND FIGURES:
· The World Health Organization “estimates that intestinal parasitic diseases caused by helminthes [worms] chronically affect about one-third of the world’s population, often most prevalent in the poorest communities and in children”.
· Intestinal worms, or soil-transmitted helminthes, are the most common infections worldwide, primarily targeting the most impoverished communities.
· The worms that cause soil-transmitted helminthes include Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworms.
· Infection is caused by ingestion of eggs from contaminated soil (A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura) or by active penetration of the skin by larvae in the soil (hookworms)/
The Water Project. Improving Health in Africa Begins With Water. Retrieved from http://thewaterproject.org/health.asp
Intestinal worms are one of 17 neglected tropical diseases that affect millions of children worldwide. Today, the widespread tragedies of intestine worms are largely disregardeddue to the limitation of the disease’s primary effects to poor countries where the treatments are unaffordable or inaccessible to those who need it.
Yearly, over 550 million people in Africa are infected by soil -transmitted Helminthiasis (hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms) that could – in the short-term – lead to threatening conditions such as anemia, vitamin A deficiency, intestinal blockage and malnutrition. In the long-term, the infections could impair physiological growth, due to mental and physic al development. The worst of all the consequences of this preventable disease is that one in five deaths occurring in children under the age of five is linked to water-related diseases in Africa that are caused by intestine worms.
CALL TO ACTION:
ADVOCATE: Contact your Congressman and encourage them to support national foreign aid programs and policies that keep these tragic and
worldwide issues on the radar of our elected officials. Let them know the cause is important to you as their constituent. Download our sample letter you can send to your elected official that highlights the importance of foreign aid as a priority for policy making.
SHARE: Voice your views and perspectives on Africa-related issues. Share your opinions with companies engaged in Africa. Author a guest editorial for your community or school newspaper, start a blog documenting your activism and ideas, or post a message on your favorite Internet message board.
DONATE: The most direct and immediate way you can help to make a difference in the lives of millions of children facing potential water-borne infections and worms from unsanitary water sources is to donate to one of our many water programs that seek to provide remote villages with clean and accessible water. Water is Life – donate today to stop preventable deaths by making clean water accessible to families and children in need.