The Evidence for School-based Deworming

School-based deworming has been identified by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT as one of the most cost-effective ways to increase school participation of any approach rigorously tested. A group of Nobel Laureates and other economists at the Copenhagen Consensus Center have also identified school-based deworming as one of the most efficient and cost-effective solutions to the global challenges facing us today.

Key Resources

Deworming has been highlighted in several studies as having significant, positive impacts on children’s health, cognitive function and education achievement as well as adult earnings. For more information on the impact and cost-effectiveness of deworming, we recommend the following key documents:

  • Levelling the Playing Field: School Health, Nutrition and Education for All
    Matthew C.H. Jukes, Lesley J. Drake, Donald A.P. Bundy

    This book provides an overview of the challenges to school-age children’s health and nutrition, and the impact of these on education. This particular section provides a comprehensive review of the evidence on the impact of worms on the health, nutrition, education and overall development of school-age children.

  • Mass School-Based Deworming: A Best-Buy for Education & Health
    Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

    This briefcase brings together research that found deworming to be more cost-effective at improving school attendance than other school health interventions. Over a series of randomized tests, mass school-based deworming was shown to increase school participation by at least 0.14 years of schooling per child treated at a cost of 50 US cents per child per year. As a result, funding mass school-based deworming programs is among the most cost-effective investments any government, agency, or donor can make.

  • Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities
    Edward Miguel and Michael Kremer

    This rigorous randomized evaluation helped establish the case for school-based deworming as a highly effective intervention for reducing school absenteeism. The results also show that by treating school-age children there are substantial health and education benefits to the wider community, and these externalities are large enough to justify fully subsidizing treatment.

  • Worms at Work: Long-run Impacts of Child Health Gains
    Sarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, Edward Miguel and Michael Kremer

    This working paper examines school-based deworming in Kenya that began in 1998 to determine whether child health gains improve adult living standards. The results show that individuals who received two to three more years of deworming than the comparison group were earning over 20% higher wages ten years later, hours worked increased by 12%, and work days lost to illness fell by a third.

  • Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South
    Hoyt Bleakley

    This study helped establish school-based deworming as an efficient investment in human capital by evaluating the economic consequences of the successful eradication of hookworm disease from the American South. A long term follow-up to the hookworm eradication campaign indicated a substantial gain in income in those areas where hookworm infection was eradicated due to treatment. Additionally, adults who were exposed to the treatment campaign as children had higher rates of literacy than those who were persistently infected by worms as children.

  • The Global Atlas of Helminth Infection: Mapping the way forward in neglected tropical disease control
    Simon Brooker, Peter J. Hotez, Donald A. P. Bundy

    Reliable and updated maps of helminth (worm) infection distributions are essential to target treatment to populations in greatest need. The Global Atlas of Helminth Infection is an open-access, global information resource on the geographic distribution of soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis.

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