Nicaragua and Bolivia Awarded Izumi Foundation Grants
The Izumi Foundation provides assistance to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people who live in developing countries. Recently, the Foundation awarded its 2011 grants to several countries, including Nicaragua and Bolivia. In Nicaragua, the grant award will be used to strengthen the health education component of the country’s existing soil-transmitted helminths (STH) control program. In Bolivia, the grant award will enable the country to implement a pilot project for a mass deworming program of pre-school and school-age children in areas where STH infection is highly endemic.
Izumi Foundation helps the world’s poorest people by providing funds to governments and programs of developing countries to improve health. In April, Izumi Foundation announced the recipients of its 2011 grants, which include the current Children Without Worms (CWW) program in Nicaragua and the newly developing program in Bolivia. Each program plans to apply the funds toward a specific STH control effort. In Nicaragua, the grant will be used to strengthen the education component of their successful STH control program. In Bolivia, the funds will be used to pilot mass deworming of pre-school and school-age children in three communities highly endemic for STH.
Strengthening Hygiene Education in Nicaragua to Break the Cycle of Infection
Since 1994, the government of Nicaragua has carried out an annual national health campaign. As one of its goals, the campaign seeks to prevent STH infections and break the cycle of STH reinfection of school-age children. In 2008, CWW began partnering with Nicaragua’s government to support these STH control activities with a donation of enough mebendazole to treat the country’s 1.5 million school-age children once a year. The country’s health workers distribute the mebendazole and immunize children during the annual health campaign.
However, breaking the cycle of infection and reinfection requires more than deworming. CWW promotes use of the WASHED strategy (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Education, Deworming) for STH control. A key component of this strategy is hygiene education that teaches students about how infections occur and how to avoid infection or reinfection with basic hygiene practices like proper hand washing. The government of Nicaragua determined that its STH control program could be even more effective by strengthening this hygiene education component of its STH control program.
In partnership with the Nicaraguan government, CWW applied for and received an Izumi Foundation grant to train at least 50 percent of the school-age children on hygiene measures during the project’s first year, and to extend that training to at least 80 percent of that population during its second year. To accomplish these objectives, the project will train health workers at the district level in delivering hygiene education. In turn, those workers will train local healthcare personnel, who will train local school teachers. Ultimately, the school teachers will educate their students on good hygiene measures.
In addition, the program plans to develop and distribute a leaflet and poster on preventing intestinal parasitic infections. The program will also develop a training CD to train those who will be educating students, healthcare workers and school teachers on hygiene education. In the second year, the program will conduct a local radio campaign and produce and distribute a hygiene education notebook at schools. Healthcare workers will log and track how much deworming medication they have administered to school-age children for the duration of the two years.
Piloting a Large-scale Deworming Project in Highly Endemic Bolivian Communities
A 2008 report by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) indicated that in Bolivia, the prevalence of STH infections ranges from 4.5 percent and 65.4 percent. Infected school-age children also appear to suffer from the highest rates of morbidity. The report notes that risk appears to rise significantly—by 50 percent or more—for those individuals living in the Amazon areas and river valleys.
To control the disease, the Government of Bolivia determined that it needed to distribute deworming drugs to pre-school and school-age children living in the country’s endemic areas. The first step in building this program is to conduct a pilot project. The Bolivian government applied for a grant from the Izumi Foundation to implement such a pilot project for three selected communities. The project’s long-term goal is to build capacity and establish operational procedures for a scaled up countrywide program.
The project team will compile the results and document the project’s impact and lessons learned. Subsequently, they will develop a set of recommendations for scaling up deworming in Bolivia to other high-risk communities in 2012. The team will also assess the pilot project’s effectiveness in reducing infection and improving knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) around STH control in the selected communities.
CWW and the governments of Nicaragua and Bolivia express their deep gratitude to the Izumi Foundation for the opportunity the grants provide them to further their STH control efforts.
 Epidemiological Profiles of Neglected Diseases and Other Infections Related to Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, Published by PAHO/WHO in 2008, page 39.