The first national prevalence survey of soil transmitted Helminths in Pakistan
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Interactive Research and Development, Lahore, Pakistan
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A238
Objective: WHO estimates, 21.7 million School Age Children in Pakistan are infected with STH, along with 9.3 million preschool-age children. However, prior to implementing the large-scale deworming program, it was necessary to determine the geographical distribution of STH in the country. The Objective of the survey was to report the prevalence and intensity of STH across Pakistan and provide information to the government for evidence-based interventions.  Methods: WHO’s sentinel site approach was used to estimate the baseline prevalence of STH infections. Schools were considered sentinel sites whereby one school was selected for every 300,000 children aged 5-10 years in each of the nine ecological zones of Pakistan. Mobile lab teams with technical and non-technical members were deployed in four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)) as well as the territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). A total of 77 schools across the country were approached, and 5188 parents consented to their child’s stool being analyzed for STH using the Kato-Katz Methodology. Results: The weighted prevalence of STH in the different ecological zones ranged from 0% to 37.5%., there are regions where the prevalence is significantly higher. Rawalpindi and Gujrat have a prevalence of 56% and 36%, respectively, representing the highest prevalence in the Northern Regions of Punjab. STH is endemic across Northern regions of KPK, with the highest prevalence around the district of Swat (37%). Much of the Southern Region of Pakistan has low levels of infection, with the notable exception of the Karachi area where prevalence reaches 20%. The survey also revealed that hygiene and sanitation infrastructure and basic hygiene practices at schools and households across all areas were poor. Conclusions: There are regions with a sufficiently high prevalence of STH that indicate that mass deworming programs should be conducted that subsequently renders a multi-dimensional impact on health, education, and livelihood.
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