Soil-transmitted intestinal worms represent a serious public health problem wherever the climate is tropical and inadequate sanitation and unhygienic conditions prevail. Three types of worms are the most prevalent and have the most damaging effect on the health of preschool children: roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.
Worm infections are associated with a significant loss of micronutrients from the child's body and contribute to vitamin A deficiency, anaemia, growth failure and malnutrition in children. An infected child's physical fitness and appetite are negatively affected and their school performance is impaired.
Therefore, all children 24 months of age or older need to be given Mebendazole or Albendazole every 6 months to treat intestinal parasites, especially hookworm and whipworm infections. Table 12.3 sets out the correct doses according to the child's age, for children who have not been tested in the previous 6 months.
Table 12.3 Doses of Mebendazole and Albendazole for children
|Mebendazole or Albendazole|
|Drug||Give as a single dose every 6 months for all children in these age groups|
|0–2 years||2–5 years|
|Albendazole 400 mg tablet||None||1 tablet|
|Mebendazole 500 mg tablet or 5 tablets of 100 mg||None||1 tablet (500 mg)|
When you see a child aged 24 months or older, you should check whether they have been given a dose of Mebendazole or Albendazole in the previous six months. If not, you should give them Mebendazole or Albendazole as indicated in Table 12.3 above.
Only chewable deworming tablets which taste good should be given to children under five years of age. For children under three years of age, tablets should be broken and crushed between two spoons, then water added to help administer the tablets.
Bear in mind that vitamin A supplements are given from the age of six months and deworming tablets are given from the age of two years.