Jakarta, IO – Worm infection remains a serious problem worldwide. Every year, 24% of the world population, or 1.5 billion people, suffer from this condition. Of these, 270 million are pre-school children, and another 700 million are school-age children living in areas prone to transmission of the worm larvae.
A recent survey of the prevalence of worm infection in 124 townships and regencies show that 27 of them have a higher than 10% prevalence level, 17 others have a 5%-10% prevalence level, with the remaining 80 having a less than 5% prevalence level. Regarding the issue, the Ministry of Health has declared that 58 million school-aged children are to be targeted for deworming medication.
“Worm infection is related to a clean and healthy lifestyle. It is known to occur in areas where people defecate carelessly. Worms generally enter the body when a person puts their dirty, blackened fingers and nails in their mouths,” explains Prof. Dr. dr. Hindra Irawan Satari, Sp.A, Subsp.IPT, M.TropPaed, a pediatrician specializing in children’s infections and tropical diseases, in the “Hoax about Deworming Medication Causes Depopulation” podcast broadcasted on Tuesday (22/8/2023).
“There are many types of worms: pinworm (Enterobius worm) and roundworm (Nematoda worm), among others. To repeat, they usually enter the body through the mouth, and then migrate to the digestive tract. So they get into the mouth, to the stomach, then to either the colon or small intestine, where they grip the intestinal wall in order to absorb the nutrients that they need to live. This causes the children infected by them to lose nutrients instead of absorbing them, especially the protein that they need for growth. This in turn triggers anemia and stunting in the poor child.”
Prof. Hindra went on to remind us that parents and immediate family are strongly influential in the effort to reduce the incidence of worm infection. “Habituate our children to consume only food that is thoroughly cooked and clean drink. Parents should also wash their hands with soap every time they are about to eat and when they finish eating, to clean their anuses after defecating and their hands afterwards, before nursing a baby, when preparing food for and feeding their children, when they clean up a baby after defecation, and after all contacts with animals. We must also encourage children to keep their footwear on at all times when outdoors, and regularly trim their fingernails and toenails to prevent worm infection. Thailand, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka were able to eliminate worm infection after literally centuries of struggle. Indonesia can do it too,” he said.
A Strong Grip on the Intestines
During the same event, Prof. Dr. dr. Purwanty Astuti Ascobat, Sp.FK, MSc, Chairwoman of the Expert Committee for the Treatment of Filariasis in Indonesia, reminded everyone of the importance of ensuring that children aged 1-12 consume the free deworming medication provided by the Government. “Deworming medication kills worms, not people. They are meant solely to depopulate worms from our bodies. They contain the active substances albendazole, mebendazole and trimpacol that are also used to treat filariasis. Because of their benefits, you can say that this one bullet that can shoot and kill two diseases,” she said.
As the worm “grips” the intestine, the deworming medication will not enter the blood stream and remains in the intestines instead. This will allow the medication to get absorbed by the worm and kill it, and the natural motions of the intestine will get the dead worm out of the body when the child/patient defecates.
“If you hear that deworming medication will enter your blood stream, that’s a huge hoax. Clinically, they don’t have side effects – it’s just that it’s not safe for a pregnant mother to consume. As for children, there are two types of deworming medication available: a syrup and a chewy tablet (orange-favored). Health workers at school will make sure that the children take their medication properly, especially the tablets, because it’s small and clumsy little hands might drop them. By having Indonesian children routinely consume deworming medication, we hope that they can grow into a healthy, ft generation as their bodies absorb all the nutrients that they consume properly,” Prof. Purwanty said. (est)