Yesterday, we received a request from an individual interested in getting a supply of Albendasole pills for the 600 children at a school in Vigneir, north of Port-au-Prince. We are mostly known for our work on chlorination systems, but he read about our past deworming activities in our About Us page on this blog. We are arranging for him to pick-up a supply of pills from Dalebrun in Port-au-Prince.
For any other relief, health, and/or development workers interested in obtaining Albendasole pills–or chlorine tablets for that matter–you can email us at coordinator[at]haitiwater[dot]org, and we’d be happy to assist you. Please cc info[at]haitiwater[dot]org as well. For those unfamiliar with the problem of intestinal worms, a previous post regarding our deworming activities can be seen here. Below is a background of the problem and how International Action has worked to address it:
A significant part of Haiti’s population is infected with intestinal worms. Many of the infected are children and these worms may consume as much as 20% of a child’s daily nutritional intake. Since Haiti already is the second hungriest country, for many children, being dewormed is the difference between life or death. Other symptoms of intestinal worms are the expanded stomachs of young children, orange hair due to malnutrition, thirsty mouths, and diarrhea.
In most cases, individuals are infected by worms because of the presence of raw sewage, the lack of potable water, and the lack of access to health care. Albendasole is extremely relevant to the current situation: The potential for worm infestations may very well increase due to the water shortage for tens of thousands of earthquake survivors, overcrowding, and lack of sanitation in many displaced persons camps.
While there are many treatments that are claimed to rid patients of worms there seems to be one that works better than the rest. A simple dose of an Albendazole pill can rid a child or adult of intestinal worms. According to the World Bank, these pills should be given out to all children attending schools in high risk areas. With broad-scale deworming, the World Bank argues that the chances of reinfection is greatly reduced. According to Peter Hotez of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control, the average American citizen annual spends $50 USD to deworm a dog. You can deworm a child in Africa for $0.50 cents. And in Haiti, the treatment is so cheap that it costs a penny per person to give one dose of the Albendazole pill to one child.
Interestingly, on page 171 of their new book Half The Sky (2009)journalists Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof, a pair of Pulitzer Prize winners, extol the values of deworming programs for the longterm progress of schoolchildren:
One of the most cost-effective ways to increase school attendance is to deworm students. Intestinal worms affect children’s physical and intellectual growth. Indeed, ordinary worms kill 130,000 people a year, typically through anemia or intestinal obstruction, and the anemia particularly affects menstruating girls. When deworming was introduced in the American South in the early twentieth century, schoolteachers were stunned at the impact: The children were suddenly far more alert and studious. Likewise, a landmark study in Kenya found that deworming could decrease absenteeism by a quarter.
Through our work in several communities in Haiti, we have begun to provide Albendazole pills. International Action has received 500,000 doses of the de-worming medicine through Aaron Jackson, whose non-profit Planting Peace has worked in Haiti since 2005. We’ve also bought 1 million more Through our water board and volunteers, we have distributed 1.5 million Albendasole deworming pills in Haiti (Our website says 200,000–we have not yet updated it).
****A youtube video of our efforts to distribute Albensadole de-worming pills to schoolchildren can be seen here (sorry, wordpress isn’t embedding the video properly****
Since we started handing out the Albendazole Pills, we have received an abundance of positive feedback from the communities.
Madame Myriana Elvariste, the caretaker of the Health Center of Trou-Sable, praised the benefits of the Albendasole pills, “I have handed out the pills to many of the children for free and have received a lot of positive feedback both from the kids and their mothers. They noticed that the kids do not gain excess weight, they do not need to drink water constantly through the night, and that this free treatment has worked better than any of the other expensive alternatives available.” Mme Myriana Elvariste
Sonia Augustin, a sixteen year old girl living in Cité Soleil stated, “I took the treatment and it helped me a lot. I can now eat well, where before I had difficulty eating healthy; I am also starting to gain weight. Thank you so much International Action, may God bless you.”
“My two youngest had diarrhea very often,” recalled Madame Madeleine Joseph, a mother of three. “I visited a lot of hospitals but was unable to find a cure. Finally I visited a pediatrician; he examined all three, and revealed that the kids have worms.The treatments prescribed did not give good results whereas the Albendazole pills distributed by International Action… have been taken by all my children and now they do not have diarrhea anymore. Many of my neighbors make the same observation. I have no words to express my gratitude towards International Action/Dlo Pwop. Their intervention changed the lives of my children.”