While virtually nonexistent and unheard of in developed countries today, parasitic worm infections are endemic in many of the poorest countries in the world.
These infections, known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and schistosomiasis, interfere with nutrient uptake and can lead to anemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. They pose a serious threat to children’s long-term health, education, and productivity. Infected children are often too sick or tired to concentrate at school, or to attend at all.
Worm infections disproportionately affect the poor. They are easily transmitted in areas with poor sanitation and open defecation. Children are particularly susceptible to infection and experience the greatest morbidity.
Parasitic worms exact an enormous toll on human capital, slowing economic development in parts of the world that can least afford it.