The Haiti Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) (computer translated) reported the results of a survey today that reveals that about a quarter of children aged 6 to 15 years suffer from some form of intestinal parasites.

Ascaris lumbricoides/CDC
Ascaris lumbricoides/CDC

In addition, about 80 percent of children in this age group do not know how one can be infected with intestinal worms and do not know how to protect from contamination.

The health officials investigation shows that 60 percent of schools don not have adequate toilets and 40 percent have no potable drinking water.

Dr. Florence D. Guillaume, Minister of Public Health called the situation “alarming” and said that Haitians tend to “trivialize” this public health issue.

Intestinal worms can cause serious health consequences including developmental and learning issues in children, plus some intestinal parasites contribute to serious anemia. Guillaume said,  “Now, we have mobile school clinics to deworming in schools, but recontamination is problematic.”

The survey was conducted between October and November 2013, on 5,160 pupils in 203 schools in 10 departments of Haiti. Several partners have supported the Ministry of Health in carrying out this survey including the Ministry of Education, the National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (DINEPA), PAHO/WHO and UNICEF.

Intestinal worms include Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworms), Trichiuris trichiura (whipworm) and hookworms species.

Globally, some 2 billion people are infected with intestinal worms at any one time.