Health-Education Package to Prevent Worm Infections in Chinese Schoolchildren

Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, Australia.
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 04/2013; 368(17):1603-12. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1204885
Source: PubMed


Soil-transmitted helminths are among the most prevalent sources of human infections globally. We determined the effect of an educational package at rural schools in Linxiang City District, Hunan province, China, where these worms are prevalent. The intervention aimed to increase knowledge about soil-transmitted helminths, induce behavioral change, and reduce the rate of infection.
We conducted a single-blind, unmatched, cluster-randomized intervention trial involving 1718 children, 9 to 10 years of age, in 38 schools over the course of 1 school year. Schools were randomly assigned to the health-education package, which included a cartoon video, or to a control package, which involved only the display of a health-education poster. Infection rates, knowledge about soil-transmitted helminths (as assessed with the use of a questionnaire), and hand-washing behavior were assessed before and after the intervention. Albendazole was administered in all the participants at baseline and in all the children who were found to be positive for infection with soil-transmitted helminths at the follow-up assessment at the end of the school year.
At the follow-up assessment, the mean score for the knowledge of helminths, calculated as a percentage of a total of 43 points on a questionnaire, was 90% higher in the intervention group than in the control group (63.3 vs. 33.4, P<0.001), the percentage of children who washed their hands after using the toilet was nearly twice as high in the intervention group (98.9%, vs. 54.2% in the control group; P<0.001), and the incidence of infection with soil-transmitted helminths was 50% lower in the intervention group than in the control group (4.1% vs. 8.4%, P<0.001). No adverse events were observed immediately (within 15 minutes) after albendazole treatment.
The health-education package increased students' knowledge about soil-transmitted helminths and led to a change in behavior and a reduced incidence of infection within 1 school year. (Funded by UBS Optimus Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12610000048088.).

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Available from: Franziska Andrea Bieri, Oct 15, 2014
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    • "Magic Glasses " (Bieri et al., 2013). Promising results, particularly in terms of reduced A. lumbricoides incidence, had been achieved when a first version of the video was tested in Hunan province. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current global strategy for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis emphasises periodic administration of anthelminthic drugs to at-risk populations. However, this approach fails to address the root social and ecological causes of soil-transmitted helminthiasis. For sustainable control, it has been suggested that improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene behaviour are required. We designed a 5-year multi-intervention trial in Menghai county, Yunnan province, People's Republic of China. Three different interventions were implemented, each covering a village inhabited by 200-350 people. The interventions consisted of (i) initial health education at study inception and systematic treatment of all individuals aged ≥2 years once every year with a single dose of albendazole; (ii) initial health education and bi-annual albendazole administration; and (iii) bi-annual treatment coupled with latrine construction at family level and regular health education. Interventions were rigorously implemented for 3 years, whilst the follow-up, which included annual albendazole distribution, lasted for 2 more years. Before the third round of treatment, the prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides was reduced by only 2.8% in the annual treatment arm, whilst bi-annual deworming combined with latrine construction and health education resulted in a prevalence reduction of 53.3% (p<0.001). All three control approaches significantly reduced the prevalence of Trichuris trichiura and hookworm, with the highest reductions achieved when chemotherapy was combined with sanitation and health education. The prevalence of T. trichiura remained at 30% and above regardless of the intervention. Only bi-annual treatment combined with latrine construction and health education significantly impacted on the prevalence of Taenia spp., but none of the interventions significantly reduced the prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis. Our findings support the notion that in high-endemicity areas, sustainable control of soil-transmitted helminth infections necessitates measures to reduce faecal environmental contamination to complement mass drug administration. However, elimination of soil-transmitted helminthiasis will not be achieved in the short run even with such a rigorous approach, and probably requires improvements in living conditions, changes in hygiene behaviour and more efficacious anthelminthic drugs and treatment regimens.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Acta Tropica
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    • "We reported recently on the development and testing of a health education package that included a 12-minute animated narrative cartoon video entitled “The Magic Glasses” (accessible at: to prevent STH infections in Chinese primary school students. The cluster randomized controlled trial, conducted in Linxiang City District, Hunan province, and involving 1718 children aged 9–10 years in 38 rural schools over the course of 1 school year (September 2010 through June 2011), resulted in the health education package having a 50% efficacy in preventing STH infections [11]. The trial established the proof of principle that health education can increase knowledge and change behavior, resulting in fewer intestinal worm infections. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The transmission of soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) is associated with poverty, poor hygiene behaviour, lack of clean water and inadequate waste disposal and sanitation. Periodic administration of benzimidazole drugs is the mainstay for global STH control but it does not prevent re-infection, and is unlikely to interrupt transmission as a stand-alone intervention. Findings We reported recently on the development and successful testing in Hunan province, PR China, of a health education package to prevent STH infections in Han Chinese primary school students. We have recently commenced a new trial of the package in the ethnically diverse Xishuangbanna autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province and the approach is also being tested in West Africa, with further expansion into the Philippines in 2015. Conclusions The work in China illustrates well the direct impact that health education can have in improving knowledge and awareness, and in changing hygiene behaviour. Further, it can provide insight into the public health outcomes of a multi-component integrated control program, where health education prevents re-infection and periodic drug treatment reduces prevalence and morbidity.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Parasites & Vectors
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    • "Overall, our strategy (see Recommendations below) for the development of the cartoon The Magic Glasses and its incorporation into a health education package proved successful [8]. An educational video provides an ideal basis for health education at school since it can be readily disseminated and reused several times, which may substantially increase cost-effectiveness. "
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    ABSTRACT: With more than two billion people infected worldwide, soil-transmitted helminths (STH) are the most widespread infections. To date, STH control efforts rely predominantly on recurrent mass drug administration (MDA), which does not prevent reinfection. Additional public health measures including novel health educational tools are required for more sustained integrated control of STH. We describe the development of an educational cartoon video (The Magic Glasses) targeting STH infections in Chinese schoolchildren and its pilot testing in China.We applied an extensive community-based mixed methods approach involving input from the target group of 9--10 year old schoolchildren and key informants, such as teachers, doctors and parents, in order to identify potential STH infection risks in the study area and to formulate key messages for the cartoon. The development of the educational cartoon included three major steps: formative research, production, and pilot testing and revision. We found that most adults and approximately 50% of the schoolchildren were aware of roundworm (Ascaris) infection, but knowledge of transmission, prevention and treatment of STH was poor. Observations in the study area showed that unhygienic food practices, such as eating raw and unwashed fruit or playing in vegetable gardens previously fertilised with human faeces, posed major STH infection risks. It was crucial to assess the intellectual, emotional, social and cultural background of the target population prior to video production in order to integrate the key messages of the cartoon into everyday situations. Overall, our strategy for the development of the cartoon and its incorporation into a health education package proved successful, and we provide a summary of recommendations for the development of future educational videos based on our experiences in China.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Infectious Diseases of Poverty
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