Deworm the World, Deworm the Children…

Okay, be sure you’ve already eaten your breakfast/lunch. Then sit down to a tasty lesson on parasitic worms (not earthworms, which are essential links in the food chain in almost every ecosystem in the world — and for a great book on that, try Gary Larson’s There’s a Hair in my Dirt! )


Earthworms are good; parasitic worms suck. Literally. They live off their host and disrupt nutrient absorption, causing weakness and anemia, and increasing susceptibility to other disease. And because they are sequential hermaphrodites (not to be confused with serial monogamists) they can reproduce almost endlessly, residing in the gastrointestinal tract and creating havoc.

Three billion people on the planet have parasitic worms, among them more than 400 million school-aged children in developing countries. That’s a quarter of all children in the developing world – living with chronic fever, vomiting, fatigue and listlessness that damages their health and impedes their access to education.  The good news is that there is an inexpensive and safe solution: mass, school-based deworming programs, administered orally by tablet once or twice a year, at a cost of pennies per dose. But less than 15% of children are receiving treatment.

I'm not sure about this...

Deworm the World is a Clinton Global Initiative determined to increase those numbers. Launched by a group of Young Global Leaders in 2007, (along with Kristin Forbes, professor of global economics at MIT and other colleagues at MIT and Harvard) DtW will reach 20 million children across 27 countries this year. The group is working with governments and implementing partners to deliver 300 million doses of deworming drugs donated by Feed the Children to schools in Africa and India – and conducting research and epidemiological surveys to prepare to scale up globally. To that end, DtW advocates tirelessly for the implementation of large-scale deworming programs, focusing on the tangible education benefits for children.

Good job!

Quite simply, deworming is one of the most cost-effective ways that developing countries can improve attendance and performance in schools. It reduces student absenteeism by 25% and increases cognitive performance. As every parent knows, when kids are sick they can’t concentrate or focus. Deworming not only ends the grossness, it gives kids in the developing world the chance for a healthier, smarter, more productive future.

At an average cost of 36 cents per child, my $100 donation today will deworm 278 kids. If this story has wormed its way into your heart, click here to donate!