The innovating experience of the program that Mundo Sano Foundation has been developing in Salta province since 2010 against several soil-transmitted helminths -in which over 6,600 people have already been treated with noticeable improvements in their life quality -was transferred to the African continent. With the first studies focused on school-age children, diagnosis and treatment programs are carried out in Ethiopia, and they will soon be started in Angola.

Mundo Sano in Ethiopia

The program that was started in Amhara, Ethiopia, estimated a prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths at around 80 per cent of the children analyzed in eight schools. With such high levels of prevalence – and pursuant to WHO recommendations -massive community treatment will be started in that area during 2014.

The next stage of the work, also focused on the infant population, will be in Benguela province, Angola.

Children at school age are the most affected population, and they suffer neurocognitive disorders, malnutrition, anemias and growth delay as a result of the parasitosis. In adults, and due to the specific characteristics of the infection from the Strongyloides stercoralis parasite, chronic self-infections can occur, and the parasitosis can survive within the infected person from infancy to old age.

The work carried out on African territory is in close collaboration with the National Center of Tropical Medicine of Health Institute Carlos III, and the Catalan International Health Program, both from Spain.

It stems from the diagnosis and community treatment work on soil-transmitted helminths started by Mundo Sano four years ago in rural and urban areas of Orán and then transferred to Tartagal, both in Salta province. A total of 3,000 people were treated in Orán and 3,683 in Tartagal. In this location, after the first stage of treatment, the prevalence of anemia in people with some sort of parasitosis diminished from 55 to 14 % after administration of the combined treatment of albendazole and ivermectin.

The Mundo Sano program in Salta is performed with the Institute of Tropical Disease Research of Salta University –Orán Region –, initially with the support of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, and Bunge y Born Foundation. Among many other activities, it consists of the validation of a serologic test for the detection of Strongyloides stercoralis, since this method tends to be more sensitive than the coproparasitologic analysis, reducing underdiagnosis.

For their treatment, the massive administration of two drugs –ivermectin and albendazole– which have already been tested for several parasitoses, is proposed, combined in an innovative manner and in a single dose. Dr Alejandro Krolewiecki’s team, of Salta University participated in the program developed in Orán. He is currently an official at the Argentine Ministry of Health. The experience in this project allowed Mundo Sano to start working in Ethiopia, where actions and protocols are replicated, to later enable comparisons between the different regions so as to improve the existing knowledge on the matter.

In Latin America, this disease puts 26 million school-age children at risk.