Cambodia reaches key target against parasites.

Author:Reinhardt, Erika

The Partners for Parasite Control was launched and a measurable global target was set after resolution 54.19 was endorsed by every Member State at the World Health Assembly in 2001, which urged seriously tackling schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. The partnership is composed of various United Nations agencies. World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, research institutes and a multitude of non-governmental organizations, some of which provide training, while others raise funds or create advocacy materials. The global target against which each country's progress is measured is that at least 75 per cent of all school-aged children at risk of morbidity from intestinal parasites be reached regularly and treated by the year 2010. To reach that goal, another "subgoal" was set that requires that all health services in endemic areas be stocked with the drugs to treat them. WHO acts as the secretariat for the group, as well as the lead technical agency.

The partnership is open to all interested parties that are engaged or wish to engage in parasite control, thereby enabling them to respond to country demands rapidly. Its roles are to: provide a platform to share the latest technical and scientific as well as practical programmatic information on control programmes; provide field, laboratory and health education materials and training, where necessary; track the progress each endemic country is making; generate concerted actions from the local to the national and international levels: and step up international advocacy for parasite control.

With the recent completion of its latest treatment campaign against intestinal parasites, Cambodia on 2 July 2004 reportedly became the first country to reach six years ahead of schedule the WHO anti-parasite global target by protecting three out of four school-aged children. Five years ago, more than 70 per cent of Cambodian children were infected with intestinal worms. They weigh less than healthy children and have a much higher chance of becoming anaemic. Once anti-parasite treatment is administered, they show a dramatic increase in their short- and long-term memory, as well as in their reasoning capacity and reading comprehension, and school absenteeism drops by as much as 25 per cent.

According to reports from more than 6,500 schools where the...

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