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Deworming Venezuela logo

Deworming Venezuela (Desparasitando a Venezuela in Spanish)

An MDA-WASH strategy to reduce parasite induced malnutrition and anemia in Venezuelan children.

The Challenge

Venezuela is experiencing the worst humanitarian and economic crisis in history.

  • Hyperinflation reached 1,000,000% in 2018 (IMF)
  • Rising unemployment and shortage of basic food, medicines, and services.
  • Venezuela has transitioned into a deep socioeconomic and political crisis.
  • Once recognized as a regional leader of vector control and public health policies, Venezuela’s healthcare has fallen into a state of collapse, creating a severe ongoing humanitarian crisis with no end in sight.
  • The re-emergence of many arthropod-borne endemic diseases has set in place an epidemic of unprecedented proportions, not only in Venezuela but in the region.

Long-term shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies, interruption of epidemiologic surveillance systems, weakening of immunization programs and an unprecedented exodus of trained medical personnel have set the stage for the resurgence of vector borne diseases and vaccine preventable infections. Among these infections are the soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections.

Children in rural areas of the Lara state experience the interrelated problems of poor growth, anemia, and parasitic infections. In children, the STHs stunt physical fitness, and development. These processes operate partially through parasite induced malnutrition, where they can rob children of essential nutrients. For example, hookworm infection impairs growth of children by causing blood loss that leads to profound protein and iron losses and ultimately to anemia.

The Facts

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and other Vaccine preventable diseases:

  1. Between 2000-2015 Venezuela witnessed an unprecedented 365% increase in malaria cases followed by a 68% increase (319.765 cases) in late 2017, probably reaching close to half a million cases per year.
  2. Per WHO, this is the largest increase in cases reported anywhere in the world.
  3. Multiple hotspots of new and active Chagas disease transmission are reported with seroprevalence in children (<10 years) as high as 12·5% and a spillover of oral cases to Colombia.
  4. A similar trend has been observed for cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis with poverty, poor housing and population displacement driving this endemic disease to an epidemic threat.
  5. Dengue transmission rose from an average of 39·5 cases/100·000 inhabitants in the early 1990’s to a 9-fold higher mean incidence of 368 cases/100.000 inhabitants between 2010-2016.
  6. Chikungunya and Zika follow an analogous trend with estimated rates of 6·975 cases/100.000 population and 2·057 cases/100.000 population, respectively, during their epidemic peaks.
  7. Emerging viruses such as Mayaro and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus have arisen threatening to reach epidemic proportions.
  8. In addition, a return of measles, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable infectious diseases has taken over crisis-hit Venezuela, due to interruption of immunization campaigns and severe shortages of vaccine stocks.

The Program

This project aims to implement a mass deworming strategy to reduce the state of malnutrition associated with intestinal helminth and protozoan infections in school-age Venezuelan children.

The project has 4 objectives:

  1. Diagnose parasitic infections among children aged 3-16 in seven communities in Venezuela.
  2. Implement Mass Drug Administration (MDA) treatment to patients in selected communities.
  3. Implement a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) – Negleted Tropical Diseases (NTDs) education program to raise the level of awareness of communities about the link of WASH and the transmission of parasitic infections.
  4. Evaluate the WASH status among these communities for a WASH intervention in Phase 2.

Community involved in the Study

La Pica

State: Portuguesa

Municipality: Monseñor José Vicente de Unda

Parish: Chabasquen

Latitude: 9° 31′ 35”

Longitude: -69° 51′ 41”

Altitude: 1.337 msnm




Nationals and Internationals Alliances