Submitted by admin on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 07:25
Over 600 million school-age children are at risk of being infected with parasitic worms. Although the harm worms cause to children’s health and education has been recognized since the 1980s, deworming was not widespread due to more urgent health sector priorities. However, over two decades later, groundbreaking research changed how the education sector viewed school-based deworming.
There were three key findings. First, researchers showed that the health impacts of deworming were significantly greater than previously estimated, due to the spillover effects of treatment. Second, they illustrated that mass deworming drastically improved school participation. In fact, it is one of the best returns on investment of any intervention evaluated to increase school attendance. Finally, they conclusively demonstrated that deworming through schools is an efficient and effective way to treat large numbers of children.
Investigators have since followed up on this research to show the long run impacts of deworming, which result in increased earnings and workforce participation of adults who received two to three additional years of treatment as schoolchildren.
This evidence was a breakthrough. School-based deworming was globally recognized as a ‘best buy’ for development, and the benefits and cost-effectiveness of school-based deworming were now clear to both the health and education sectors. However, additional barriers remained, and millions of children continued to go without treatment. Some countries needed access to drugs, while others needed technical assistance and capacity building. In addition, policies needed to be developed or strengthened in order to support school-based deworming programs.
Recognizing the huge opportunity to impact the lives of millions of children, economists Michael Kremer and Esther Duflo shared the evidence with fellow members of the Young Global Leaders Education Task Force, who promptly launched the Deworm the World Initiative in January 2007 at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Deworm the World (DtW) has reached 37 million children in 27 countries by supporting the launch of new country programs and enabling the continued activity of existing ones. DtW is operated as an initiative of Innovations for Poverty Action.