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Primary School Deworming: Impacts on Child Health and Education

Health & Psychology Kenya

Intestinal worms infect more than one in four people worldwide and are particularly prevalent among school-aged children in developing countries. In Kenya, one-fourth of student absenteeism is attributed to abdominal pains which are likely due to intestinal helminth infections—including hookworm, roundworm, schistosomiasis and whipworm. This study evaluated the Primary School Deworming Project (PSDP), carried out by International Child Support in cooperation with the Busia District Ministry of Health. Researchers randomly divided 75 schools into three equal groups which were phased into treatment over three years. Schools with worm prevalence over 50 percent were mass treated with deworming drugs every six months, in addition to receiving regular public health lectures, wall charts on worm prevention, and training for one designated teacher. Deworming reduced serious worm infections by half amongst children in the treatment groups, increased school participation by at least 7 percentage points (equating to a one-quarter reduction in school absenteeism), and had spillover effects to the entire community and those living up to 6 kilometers away from treatment schools. Including the spillover benefits of treatment, the cost per additional year of school participation is US$3.27, considerably less than the cost of many alternative methods of increasing primary school participation. This study is considered a pioneer in the use of randomized controlled trials in development economics, and helped lead to the establishment of Deworm the World, which has reached over 200 million children in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

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  • International Child Suppor
  • Busia District Ministry of Health
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